News Networks have started to loose the game a long time ago. Technology has played quite an important role in terms of how people consume news these days and unfortunately the big players weren’t fast enough to follow and innovate.
People might feed their daily news crave through social media, but when a breaking news event happens they turn their TV on to watch the live picture and hear a reliable source. For that reason, News Networks need to focus on creating on a daily basis “breaking news” themselves. Stories that will affect the viewers in their everyday lives, make them question things and situations and give them solutions.
Today, I will focus on CNN and their TV division (The Digital team does an amazing job in my opinion). The networks has already started making many changes since the arrival of the new President, Jeff Zucker and it’s definitely too early to comment about it. And to be honest with you I hate when people criticize negatively other people’s work. Sure you have a right to criticize anything, but why not do it in a positive way that will have a good effect on everybody! Nevertheless change is always welcome and it’s much better than no action in today’s tech world. Therefore CNN is on the right track!
The bellow brainstorming took me around 60 minutes to complete and definitely doesn’t provide any ground breaking ideas, but rather some very simple observations and suggestions. Simplicity some times on TV and technology can make a huge difference (take as an example the new Chromecast by Google; nothing new or innovating but so simple and easy to use that innovates itself in a way)
CNN here it goes…! (You can also view a PDF version of my “The New CNN Bible” – soon to be updated)
CNN TV content should be divided into three categories:
A. Breaking News
Where all the network’s resources should be used. It is important that updates be as fast as possible and incorporate all latest technology.
B. Daily Important News
What the viewers need to know to be informed. Heavily dependent on your target demographics.
C. CNN News & Stories
Content created by the CNN team. In other words CNN must create its own breaking news and big stories on a daily basis.
In this post, I will focus on the last two. At the end there are some tips for the Digital section of CNN.
B. Daily News
Remote Links Use remote links to get out of the studio (I am not talking about stand ups). What is one thing that the internet is still struggling with? Good quality live video from across the nation and the world.(The camera needs to be moving a lot, not just a reporter standing in front of the camera). For example: A reporter is in downtown Chicago reporting about how the housing market is becoming even more expensive. If this is a topic that “sells” why not instead of having a standup of the reporter, the viewer could watch him/her touring live inside an apartment where it’s price raised 15% in 2 years. He can talk with the owner and the landlord and at the same time have an inside view of what a $1 million downtown estate looks like. It will be even better to compare live more than one location.
I feel the same news stories are repeating again and again. It is understandable as new viewers are coming in all the time, but in today’s technological world, most news aficionados already know all the top stories by lunch time (I am not talking about Breaking News or Big stories). I would love to see a more fast pace section, where new stories that are about to become big would be reported.
Have the mentality to broadcast news and stories that are about to get big instead yesterday’s news. If the viewers get the sense that they will be the first to know, they will stick, come back, and become loyal.
How about Tech news? If you want to embrace new viewers and a younger audience, you should incorporate a fast paced tech news section (might range from the new iPhone application that just came out to a business tech related story).
Everything is very static. I am not saying become Fox News (that’s on the totally other side), but I believe the visuals need to be enhanced a bit. Some sound effects, new innovative maps (there are shows that go live to 3 different continents and no one can even tell), more infographics. We never get to see a long shot of the studio any more (unless you are building new ones). The hosts sit all the time. There isn’t any action whatsoever. News equals action!
Embrace Technology in any way possible. Be more Interactive. Here is an example: Live Polls on an
important subject/matter, where we can see the viewers’ opinion live on the screen. CNN’s App could incorporate something like this or use 2n Screen social apps, as Zeebox does. (CNN’s App is awesome!)
It is important that the visual identity of the network remain the same throughout every different show. I notice big differences; for example between how reporters and TV Hosts are dressed. Of course there could not be a budget for everyone to be styled properly, but some generic guidelines could be given.
Use the world Live more. Live from Atlanta, Live from New York, LIVE LIVE LIVE. It is the only way to compete with the Internet. People might find out about a story on Twitter but will go to CNN to find the details and see the live picture.
C. CNN News & Stories
A Primetime zone needs to be created. (It is just not right for a top News network to repeat the same news show at 9 and 10pm) Have the viewers’ voices be heard more. AC Town-Hall is a great idea and can be enhanced even more. (Italian TV through the years incorporated amazing news related primetime talk-shows). All the other TV Networks have only experts talking about the issues. Imagine a full stadium(or something even more unexpected, amazing outdoors spaces throughout the U.S.A) once a week
across the country talking about important topics. Imagine if technology is incorporated during these shows. Remote Links across the nation, Twitter Questionnaire, Zeebox Live polls etc.
I will insist with live. It is the only way to face the frenemy called Internet. Live events from places where no one has broadcasted before. Take people to places they never seen before. Live from Google’s amazing infrastructure to and old tradition farm in the middle of America. Imagine going live from a village in Africa, I have an amazing idea of comparing places and situations around the world at the same time. Make the viewers decide through Twitter what places and people they want to see next!
More investigative journalism. It can be done in various ways visually to differentiate from what has been
done before. A primetime talk-show with investigative reports can be created. *A few days ago everyone online was talking about the video of a FedEx employee throwing packages around like garbage. Another story that captivated the internet was how Naked Juices use preservatives and synthetic fiber. Hire a team. Take them to go undercover inside companies (the marketing department needs to be involved)that have suspicious activities. Show me what’s happening from inside. – TV is about the visuals. Many times producers forget about this. Many topics can be included. Cosmetics, Wedding Industry, and even dry-cleaners, depending on your demographics. People are usually shocked when they find something incredible or unexpected.
*TIP: OK OK I admit it, I have a love for investigative journalism, if it’s done right! I was producing and directing a live talk show in Europe with investigative reports that became the talk of the town for 4-years and really changed people’s lives. I started as director for the live (in an amazing 360 studio) but the stories captivated me so much that I became the Exec. Producer!
More human stories. “Inside Man” is a great choice! The most stories shared online (beside lazy cats) are human related stories. Army personnel coming back from Iraq meeting their family for the very first time, or a child that after a surgery hearing from the very first time etc. Real human stories always sell.
Reporters and producers need to be part of the News in a more effective way. Use reporters and producers in a way in which they become part of almost every broadcast and interact with the viewers. For example: when there is breaking news. What is the latest on a topic that is being discussed? What do people talk about on the internet? Is there an amazing iPhone app that is coming out? Have them tested and in a video report their opinion about it. I can give you lots of examples, Keeping CNN employees more engaged will make the viewers feel closer to the network.
Digital (Haven’t gone in detail about the digital section of CNN yet, Overall the Digital team does a great job. Here are just a couple of thoughts)
Create Video News channels on Instagram and Vine! (Vine can be just breaking since it’s only for few seconds) – Incorporate any new technology fast and first (e.g Chromecast)!
It seems to me there is a gap between CNN TV and Digital.
I’ve been watching CNN all day and I didn’t hear -not even once- the news hosts mention anything about the digital part of the network. Does this happen for a reason? Close the gap! Make the viewers use tablets or monitors as their 2nd screen. Point them there often. If you do then they will also come back on their TV.
Top 20 things we need to know Create a newsletter with the Top 10 or 20 news we need to know. Send it early in the morning. Include different categories and have users choose. What are the top things I need to know today if I am a business man, if I am tech geek, if I am a mother etc.
Live Special News Events Online Exclusive. Find what the internet community cares about and broadcast Live, making it a huge event. Imagine what happens if CNN International broadcasts Live for the very first time from a small village in the country of Burundi, Africa where children starve and the life expectancy rate is 23 years old.
…to be updated www.fanispoulinakis.com