The Philippine Star
The Philippine Star is often hailed as one of the three most popular English language broadsheets in the Philippines, along with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Manila Bulletin. Founded in 1986 by Max Soliven, Betty Go-Belmonte and Art Borjal, it has endured for more than two decades and has become one of the most-read newspapers in Metro Manila.
The Star has several sister publications: Pilipino Star Ngayon (Filipino language tabloid), The Freeman (English newspaper printed in Cebu), Banat (Cebuano paper), and People Asia Magazine (English language magazine).
Overview – http://www.philstar.com
The times are changing, however, and being successful using one mass media technology is no longer enough to survive as a media outlet in this age of quick-and-easy information. This is especially true when it comes to newspapers, whose readerships are not as large as before because of the presence of other mass media technologies that can relay information in a manner that is both faster and more appealing to the public.
Because of this, it was necessary for the Philippine Star to find a of keeping itself alive, preferably by making use of the newer mass media technologies. Thus, the website http://www.philstar.com, official website of the Philippine Star, was born on August 2000 as the online edition of the Philippine Star and has “grown in content and reach over the years” (About Us, http://www.philstar.com).
The Home Page
As one can observe from the picture above, there is an abundance of ads in the site’s home page and the different kinds of articles are separated from each other, the same kinds of articles being located in the same box. Of note here is the positioning and prominence of the top news stories for the day, whose box is located in the point where the reader’s eyes are likely to be resting in. The presence of distracting ads to the left and pictures in a slide show to the right may distract the less focused of readers from the day’s top news, though.
This is the second part of the home page, which shows web specials in the box located at the right, videos in the one in the middle and sports news, entertainment news, columns, health and lifestyle news, and science and technology news in the box to the left.
Of note in this portion of the home page is the reel in the bottom part of it that shows features, opinions, letters to the editor, “good” news, articles from Starweek Magazine (a weekly magazine, as the name suggests), tourism news, an inbox that shows the readers’ messages about their opinions on different issues, and a link to the Young Star page. This reel seems out of place and should probably be moved to either the upper or lower portion of the page.
This is the last part of the home page, which shows news concerned with overseas Filipino workers, the day’s weather report, the condition of some Philippine stocks, and other things that may interest people, and some links that provide information about the website and the Philippine Star newspaper. I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the other parts of the site if the links to the entertainment section were in this portion of the home page.
It is no secret that the Philippine Star’s motto is “truth shall prevail.” And it is also no secret that all media organizations – the Philippine Star included – promise objective and factual news to the masses. My examination of the news articles in philstar.com seems to suggest that the site keeps this promise, based on my observations of the content of the news articles and on the number of articles that talk about one event (in this case, the resignation of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, which is the most popular news in the site by my second revision of the article’s draft).
Philstar.com also allows people to comment on news articles, both on comment boxes under each news article (with the proper restrictions, of course) and on polls like this one: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=713028&publicationSubCategoryId=522
Still, it might be more convenient for the readers if all the articles that tackle a single issue had links with each other, or if there were some sort of timeline that discusses the flow of important events.
The website has several different design schemes for its different parts.
The design scheme shown on the page pictured above is used in the pages that show links to headlines, opinions, business news, and entertainment news. The lifestyle section also has a design that is quite similar to this one.
In my opinion, the placing of the ads in this scheme is the best of all the schemes in the site because it is less distracting than the other option, which is shown in the scheme below.
This is the design scheme for the pages that feature all national news articles, including the top news stories. In my opinion, the fact that the ads are in one big block would distract the reader from the news article (it sure distracted me).
Still, I consider the simplistic design of this part of the site as the best design scheme in the website since it doesn’t distract people from their articles.
This is the design scheme for sports section. Judging from the fact that it is almost as extensive as the main page itself, one can see how much importance the site’s developers put in the sports section.
Upon further examination, I noticed that the design for sports news articles is a recolored version of the design for the news article. This means that I still have issue with the positioning of the ads.
The Young Star, which is directed at the youth in general and teenagers in particular, also has a different design scheme, which is undoubtedly created with the purpose of encouraging a younger audience to read. It seems effective enough, according to the results of the experiment I conducted using teenage family members.
While it can be said that philstar.com still has some shortcomings (like that large block of distracting ads), it can become more effective and attractive to the readers with a few minor alterations to its design.