MSNBC's Spectra news viewer a very different spin

May 26, 2008 by Dave Haynes

I have been fiddling for a few days now with MSNBC’s Flash-based news viewer, which takes a dramatically different approach to visual presentation of news headlines.

Instead of news tickers or simple, stacked headlines, this is a color-coded tornado of Flash cards that swirl in a vortex on the screen.

Spectra merges the news spectrum and the color spectrum, says MSNBC’s NewsWare lab, into an expansive news viewing experience. With comprehensive live news coverage, striking design, complete customization, dynamic browsing, human body interaction and many other unique features, Spectra brings A Fuller Spectrum of News to life in our most immersive extension yet.

It is eye candy, as has been noted elsewhere in coverage, and not all that practical in terms of page presentation. And it certainly makes no sense as an app on digital sign screens, except for monster LED boards.

What I like, and why I am even writing about this, is the out-of-the-box thinking behind visual presentation. These are really well-packaged headlines, and organized visually to help people view. I mostly think crawling news tickers are a waste of time and screen real estate on screen networks, in part because the audience doesn’t want them, but also because the presentation is terrible.

IF some variation on this sort of thing was done, with engaging visuals and easily digested  news nuggets, then maybe there’s something there.

Leave a comment