ABC News Shows Its Sides

I just checked out ABC News’ opinion site, “Both Sides, All Sides,” after seeing Steve Safran’s blog post about it. The site lines up left-right commentaries on various hot-button topics—like abortion and John Kerry’s most recent botched attempt at humor—and invites users to join in the debate. And it literally lines the commentaries up on the left and right side of the page, with helpful blue/red coloring-coding.

Yes, we’re in the throes of a midterm election, and issues like abortion and John Kerry’s sense of humor are legitimately contentious. But something about the red/blue, divided-nation meme strikes me as played out, so 2004—like “moral values.”

And while I can understand ABC News' desire to muck around in the sandbox of the blogosphere, do they really need to provide yet another forum for ideologues from the Huffington Post and Town Hall? And are they really prepared to referee what already looks to be an increasingly uncivil shouting match on the message boards?

We’ll see. But ABC may want to rethink the graphics on the site.

Each headline is accompanied by a bug featuring a silhouetted profile, mouth open in mid-yammer. The chattering mouths on the left face the chattering mouths on the right. Fine. But there’s also an animated banner at the top of the page that depicts two hands, palms open and facing one another. Starting at opposite ends of the banner, they push together the words “Both Sides.” Unfortunately, that combination of chattering mouths facing open hands says nothing so much as: talk to the hand. Not exactly an indication of constructive dialogue.

By Joel Topcik