24/7 TV news websites: Part 7 - ITN

 by Martin Belam, 17 January 2008

Over the last few days I've been looking at I've the websites of Europe and the UK's English language 24/7 news channels, exploring the Web 2.0 features they offer. So far I've looked at Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, Euronews and France 24.

Today I wanted to turn my attentions to the ITN website. Without a parent channel, which was closed in December 2005, and with minimal branding these days on ITV for their productions, their site has little to reinforce any kind of brand image. It is very lightly designed, with the ITN logo and a drop-shadow on the images being about the only identifying graphical elements that prevent it looking like an unstyled wireframe. This is a little deceptive however, as the site has some advanced features.

ITN homepage

On the right-hand side of the homepage there is a call-to-action inviting users to add ITN News search to their Google Toolbar. I'm surprised how few news sources online offer custom search solutions for browsers and toolbars. Below the Toolbar promo there is a promo to subscribe to ITN's podcasts.

ITN Google and podcast promos

The site also features a tag cloud in the homepage left-hand navigation, of terms related to the headlines. Clicking links within the tag cloud takes the user to a 'tag' homepage, aggregating recent stories with that tag. The 'tag' homepage features another related terms tag cloud for the stories on the page, and so this builds into a very neat way of navigating laterally through news by person, concept or location.

ITN tag cloud

RSS feeds

ITN produces RSS feeds. The main feed is auto-discoverable by browsers from the homepage, and is promoted with a large blue RSS icon in the left-hand navigation.

ITN RSS homepage promo

Although there doesn't seem to be an overall list of RSS feeds or help page for users, ITN outputs a considerable amount of RSS content. Each of the 'tags' generates a feed, so users are able to track individual topics, people and places appearing in ITN news.

Blogs, Comments and Voting

The ITN site does not appear to carry any user-generated content or votes. There does not appear to be any blogs or blog-like content on the site either.

Social bookmarking

ITN do include social bookmarking links at the bottom of their stories. A panel includes buttons for del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Newsvine and GNN.

ITN story page with social bookmarking links

Tomorrow I will be looking at Russia's English Language contribution to the 24/7 news environment with a review of the Russia Today website.

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