I visited CNN.com for my field notes study. I would say this site is geared towards poeple who are interested in the news of the day. I'm sure (from personal experience) that college-age kids and adults primarily use this site to get their politcial news.
The first thing that catches my eye is at the top right hand corner, the Netscape name. THen right below this is a picture of John Kerry and headlines about Super Tuesday. The major issue obviously tonight is who is going to win in Super Tuesday. It shows already that John Kerry has won Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts. This is a very timely site, because it was showing up to date precint numbers.
Just below the Kerry article are a list of more top stories of the day. On the left hand side they have links to different kinds of articles for example sports, health, weather etc. These links then were also spread out one by one with moer sub headings related to upcoming events. Each area had at least 2 stories for each.
They also offer you to sign up for breaking news. I did this once, and you will get a lot of stories sent to you!
For advertisements, there weren't that many. At the very top there was a google search line and there was another one down a bit on the left hand side. There was an ad by Acura nest to a listening link of a speech. It said sponsered by Acura. Another ad appeared at the very bottom of the page and it said "powered by Novell." I guess you could call this advertising...at the very bottom of the page they have a section titled "From our partners" Then they list TIme, Sports Illustrated and Fortune." They offer links to their stories in the magazine and then also offer you to subscribe to the magazine. One other interesting note is that in the middle of the page CNN had it's one little gimick. You could actually get CNN gear!
I would definatly say there is more editorial infor then ads. The ads are very small and the news takes over. Which is exactly what it should do seeing that it is a news site!
This site is clearly better for daily soundbites. There is a way to go back and look at stories, but it's primary focus is to keep to relevant stories. Again from personal experience, it can be done to use it for research.
I would recommend this site if you are looking for the top news stories of the day. It gives good stories in a limited space. They are detailed and to the point. Again like I said it's better for the latest stories. It's nice and quick and you can usually find the story that you are looking for, as long as it's been in the past couple of days