A new semester meant a new beat assignment. Wednesday marked the day that I received one called The Plain Dealer. I only heard of the beat's name once or twice, but I hoped for a different experience with it in comparison to the old beat I studied last semester. The Arizona Republic’s website included repeated headlines and content. Uneven rows and columns also didn’t help me lower my feelings of disappointment for the page. I hoped for better.
My wish came true. With an immediate glance I couldn't help but be a little impressed by the design. The paper presented only two columns for its format. The blue bubbly tabs reminded me of the font that Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s website used. The effects created big and comprehensive letters. And the content even served as interesting. The reporters included words that made readers feel like they attended the events. One sentence in an article featured Obama whispering to his youngest daughter that he “did it” (got sworn into office) while embracing her with a hug. The author added an action. That action is what encouraged me toward reading more.
Navigating around also wasn't too difficult. Click the white arrow to the right of the blue "Top Stories" tab and a drop box appears. It's an easy way for you to explore different categories that include sports, entertainment and politics. I did run into some trouble with the plus signs on the left side of each article, though. I have no idea what those are for. I thought they represented the number of comments people put on the page, but I’m still not sure.
In the bottom-right corner of one of the articles I noticed a list called "Most Comments." It showed the number of remarks people made about particular articles on the site. The top five dealt with sports. But click on any of the comments and the page guides you to cleveland.com/interact. A thorough archive of the community's thoughts about reported content pops up. It includes blogs and videos. The Arizona Republic didn't have any of this.
I expected good social media from this online news source since it established an interactive page. The Plain Dealer used its Facebook and Twitter pages a lot. It even had an RSS feature. So far, so good with my new beat.