I was not extremely familiar with the Times before being assigned this beat. I have family out in Orange Country, Calif., which is fairly close to Los Angeles, and gives me a reason to see how the news of this region affects the people living there. But other than having family, I have no connection to Los Angeles, which is also what makes covering this beat area interesting.
The first thing that caught my eye was how the section bar was laid out. I really liked how it went from local, to U.S., to world. What was most important to the readers was the first thing that they read, and it then expanded to the next most important, the U.S., and then to world, which was the least important of the hard news. It shows understanding by the web developers and the newspaper company itself to recognize what is important to its readers.
The next impressive thing about the Times was its world section. The most important headlines are on the left hand side, some with photos and some without. To the right of the headlines are ads and links for multimedia stories. But the feature I like the most is the layout of the stories that are towards the bottom of the page.
If a reader were to scroll down, they would find headlines from all regions of the world, and they are grouped together by region. There are headline stories from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, just to name a few of the regions covered. And if you click on the section's heading, it will link you to a page specifically devoted to stories of that region, just as if someone were looking for the sports section or entertainment.
My initial thoughts on the Times is that it was a major market newspaper that caters to the people that live in that specific region before branching out to those in the U.S. and in the world. But, the newspaper have a complete understanding of what their readers want to hear, and the layout of the site reflects it. In addition, they also make it very easy to find specific stories about specific topics. Overall, I believe that covering the Times will be a very interesting assignment to continue throughout the year.