The first thing I did on the morning of Sept. 11, 2011, was visit the homepages of various news sites. I was curious how many (and how prominently) major papers across the country would feature a multimedia package about the 10-year anniversary. Not surprisingly, coverage dominated most of the entire homepages of many major news organizations. Reuters, however, did not follow suit and abandon news as if the world stopped turning on 9/11.
Whether it was deliberate or just a poorly created package, I still can’t decide. The top of the homepage was dedicated to covering the anniversary, yes, but it lacked compelling visuals and enticing navigation. A small headline, a single photo, and 10 links to related stories did not encourage me to explore the content. Links to slideshows and videos were not in a prominent location and so, hard to find. While I think other sites overplayed photos and videos, playing more to emotion rather than storytelling, Reuters didn’t seem to try to tap into the very visual nature of 9/11 at all. I found the site to be very text-heavy and completely unengaging. An absence of movement, such as scrolling photos, only made the experience even more lackluster. Interactivity requires getting people to start clicking in order to keep them clicking. Perhaps Reuters didn’t want to go along with what everyone else was doing and attempted to keep the focus off of 9/11. Whatever the case, better not to cover something at all than to cover it poorly.