Navigating Information

Analyzing PBS, Yahoo News and The Wall Street Journal

Source: Google images

Aug, 30, 2016

In the first day of the class, we learned important lesson by exploring wind-up toys! It was really cool to explore ordinary objects in different lens, which expanded my way of thinking. When we gathered around circle, I remember recognizing nun as penguin just by looking at the back of it. I learned that it is crucial to look things in various angle in order to deeply interact with it.

Sept, 1, 2016

As our professor Stacie Rohrbach states, our goal for Project one is:

To investigate ways of using communication design to help people become better informed citizens by teaching them how to carefully read content (not just the words but the forms of information) and encouraging them to make comparisons among information sources.

My partner Chirag and I will look into three online news sources —PBS, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News— and see how they communicate the information.


The layout of PBS is very intuitive and simple. Instead of throwing out every thumbnails of news at landing page, it focuses on the top stories and place others in hierarchical order — which reduced nosiness.

With the dark image of Trump, the main title in bold white color really stands out, which grabbed my attention at a glance. My eyes immidiately followed the RUNDOWN sign, which leads to the news blog to watch live video clip. They used same picture of Trump to raise connection between two contents. Also the logo of PBS stands out on the page and the main color — scarlet red is used harmoniously.

PBS uses photos in landing page in scroll format(which takes up to 50% of the page)to emphasize the main topic. It is designed to discern easily due to the fact that 1) there are only one image at a time when I scrolled down (help to focus one at a time!) 2) limited color scheme(blue, red, white). When it comes to a color palette, PBS tends to use blue-ish pictures for each topic to go with their background color for sub-menu, and uses mono tone to highlight the main points. The legible typeface also played well in proper size and order.

contents of sub-menu

The contents seems to be biased towards politics at landing page because of the upcoming election, but it covers variety of issues from arts, education to international hot-potatoes. On the other hand, readers can quickly brows the top stories due to the bold headlines in sub menu along with thumbnails.

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal(WSJ) has more textual content than PBS, featuring medium size clickable titles laid top of a small image of a person or place.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper compare(left) to online version(right)

The WSJ gives impression of a printed newspaper, compare to other online news platform. How they divided in each section vertically gives direct corelation. It manages the size of titles and subtitles even, so the typeface does not kill the landing page. Furthermore, It places images and thumbnail of videos in order which the complicated charts and numbers about stock market can harmonize in a pleasing way. Compare to PBS, the contents features on the landing page is varied, ranging from politics to finance and even the information about the dating-website!

Yahoo News

Yahoo News is defenitely an image based platform than other news sources. Even though it placed on a grid, it seems very cluttered.

Yahoo News covers more variety of topics in top stories section than other news sources. It covers weather to international issue. Unlike WSJ — which also contains various topics, Yahoo gives the impression of a very noisy platform.

Even though it uses grid, the different size and space between each column affect the compaction of the overall page. Especially the dense text below the main title and various colors of each thumbnails further confusing the readers. In sum, Yahoo seems to deliver as much information as possible to the readers. In that way, I feel like exploring a chaotic Facebook page or other social platform.

Sept, 2, 2016

In our last class, Stacie wanted us to think beyond the layout and structure of the online news sources itself. She challenged us to dig into the purpose of strategies of each news and keep asking why they doing this to the readers. After the fascinating discussion, two questions were asked us to be answered as a designer and readers: What are the goals of the company versus audiences. We, as a designer, what is our responsibility and ethics between the audience and company.

After reading Media Sources: Distinct Favorites Emerge on the Left and Right from Paw Research Center, I learned more about the readers of each news sources.

Among the all news sources, PBS (71%) is the most trusted sources among those with consistently liberal political values.

For Yahoo, those with mostly conservative views gravitate towards Yahoo News (6%). It consider as “long tail” both of which primarily aggregate and highlight news produced by other outlets.

The Wall Street Journal is the only one news source that is more trusted than distrusted. According to Paw Research Center, among consistent conservatives, 30% trust the Wall Street Journal for news about government and politics and 17% distrust it; among consistent liberals, 35% trust it and 14% distrust it.

Sept, 5, 2016

After deeper analysis of readers and companies — the news sources, I started to focus more on the backstage of each one in detail.

Consider potential company goals and readers.

Both PBS and Yahoo News composed towards to liberal ideology than WSJ. However, even though Yahoo has mostly liberal readers, the structure itself approach to broader readers — a “mixed” audience. WSJ is consider as belivable in both liberal and conservative side and provides evenly distributed information. Due to the fact that people recognize WSJ as the largest newspaper in the history of US and a fair news that won a 37 pulitzer price, It gives trustworthy impression to them.

Visual Strategies

PBS provides contents with visual elements than other resources mostly with gets played automatically when readers click the news. They use bold and simple font for headline which grabs reader’s attention. Even though PBS leans towards liberal, they used picture of Trump as their main page that appeals their fairness to the readers. However If you look closely, you can tell they used biased image for Trump, compare to Clinton.

If you look at the image, Clinton look confident and professional within the dark blue background. In contrast, Trump seems frivolous and surroundings are hectic.

WSJ is contents-heavy news source with less visual elements. The statistic of stock markets on the right corner emphasize their business-oriented impact to the readers. Because they provides fair contents of both democratic and republican party, the readers won’t get stressed by biased contents and feely explore the source.

On the other hand, Yahoo contains endless visuals in many different format and heavy contents. It gives an impression of social media platform, but not in a good way. Also the various tone of color in the pictures affects the reader’s attention. Overall, the overwhelming, clutter space seems screaming to the readers whom already exited the site.

Overall, I think it is important to give right contents in right way as a designer. Based on fairness, the news sources should give imformation as fast as they can to the readers, which reduces the fear of missing out.

Sept, 13, 2016

After inform ourselves on how to critically absorb news, we now turns our focus to broad sense — How can we help citizens to become better informed consumers of news?

Brainstorming session

Our team broke down three news sources into variety of categories, in that way, we could cluster each news into three main theme:

  • PBS — you SEE news
  • Yahoo — you Talk news
  • The Wall Street Journal — you Read news

Within this main theme, we started brainstorm what would be the best way to bring our ideas in presentation.

Guess what we did. After preparing our key contents, we decided to present information about news sources like a real-news-show! That led us me being a news show anchor and Rossa, a corrospondent at the site.

Screenshot from video recorded by Professor Stacie Rohrbach

Sept, 15, 2016

As follow up, we discussed what are the possible improvements and great things we have done in our presentation! Here is key facts to keep in mind:

A list of possible ways to improve our presentation

For upcoming presentation, I would encourage to supplement ideas with clear guidelines as well as effective visuals that could create an argument itself. It was a bit challenging for me to draw and talk at the same time, but gave me a new perspective to effectively interact with audiences.

Our next step was converting our ideas to visual format. We first went back to our three main points — See news, Talk news and Read news — to recap connotation and denotation within features. We realized more bigger picture to embrace our analysis of the three news sources, which could give strong sense of awareness to readers — What is you is not what you get. We also realized that every news source is different. Then, we created concept models around these key messages:

  • Keeping in mind our ‘what you see is not what you get’, we thought of a physical installation where the user looks at something, maybe a controversial image that draws his attention, is attracted to it and flips it over to know more, and then finds something he was not expecting.
  • ‘Every news source is different’ led us to to a questionnaire titled “Which news are you?”, which relates the user to a news source, based on some imputs of characteristics. We wanted to send across the message — ‘Every individual is different. So is news’.
  • ‘What you see is not what you get’ led us to ‘Beware! Don’t stay in the dark’ — an installation that displays our message only when a user switches on the light.

Sept, 20, 2016

After getting quality feedback from our professor, several questions were raised. How should we communicate our analysis of the news sources to citizens to become better informed and leave them with feasible steps to take while consuming news. We figured out that our previous concepts had the ‘Why’ aspect of the message — Why should you read news carefully, but missed ‘how’ — How should we encourage citizen to read news carefully? What are the steps the reader might take in order to engage as well as carefully read a news? We now focused on converting ‘how’ factor and points that readers can take action through designed steps.

We framed steps that readers can take while reading a news article:

  1. What kind of content?
    -News story, Someone’s opinion, A reaction, Sponsored content, Ads, etc.
  2. What is the source?
    -Data, documents, eye-witness stories, etc.
  3. What is the evidence?
    -Research, quotes, photos/videos, etc.
  4. What‘s missing?
    -Does it answer everything you want to know about the topic?
Brainstorm session

After setting up key questions to guide readers to engage more with news article, we developed some concepts how to interact with readers with the message we want to provoke.

Concept 1.

Working on the aspect of actionable points, we thought of an interactive display that gives people examples from news websites based on their selection of news source, kind of content and evidence. The idea was to teach people to be able to find what is missing part in news content.

Concept 2.

in line with our message of ‘What you see is not what you get’, we thought we could show people two images (one nice and one bad) of the same person so that they understand how its all about the perspective. The same could be done with headlines for the same story written very differently.

Concept 3.

Now that we had the content, we wanted to do something that creates maximum impact. Our third idea was based around murder mystery riddles. We wanted to pick a murder mystery riddle and convert it to look like a news article. When people read several times and answer the riddle, we wanted to ask them — if you read a riddle so seriously, why not news? This idea also aligns with ‘What you see is not what you get’.

We decided to go ahead with the third idea and work with murder mystery riddles. The riddle we have picked is:

Tom is 83 years old and lives alone in a flat. Because of his age , he is not able to move comfortably and hence most of the things are delivered to his house. On Friday while delivering the mail , postman feels something suspicious in the flat and try to look inside through the key hole and he saw a blood filled body of the old man.
FBI arrived at the scene. On the outside of flat , they found two bottles of warm milk , tuesday’s newspaper, some unopened mails and some gifts. FBI immediatly knew who the murderer was.

Who was the murderer ?

As for the medium of, we have two concepts in mind:

  • A poster that we can put up across the campus with a $500 reward for answering the riddle and ask them to SMS their answers. Once they send the SMS, we get back to them with a link that poses the question — if you take a riddle so seriously, why not news? The page will also have steps to follow while reading news.
  • The second is an ‘honest’ ad campaign for a news agency. The riddle that we package like a news story could be the first news article on their website. When people access it, they see the question and can see the answer on click. This next page will also pose the question — if you take a riddle so seriously, why not news? The page will also have steps to follow while reading news.
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