Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Q&A With CNN International's Nick Wrenn

India's Business-Insider.com looks at the challenges of news outlets going digital with Nick Wrenn, Vice President of Digital Services at CNN International.

Does digital/cross-platform content become easier to deliver if you have your own news gathering infrastructure like CNN?

Absolutely. I believe that traditional and new media platforms are collaborators, with each complementing the strengths of the other to provide a more holistic experience to consumers/viewers. CNN pioneered online news in 1995 and the website was re-launched in October 2009. Our content ownership strategy has allowed us to expand the depth and breadth of coverage on cnn.com and across other new media platforms.

For instance, we have recently launched CNN applications for the iPad and iPhone, allowing users to access news anytime, anywhere. For the first eight weeks after the launch, these apps were ranked number 1 or number 2 among all the available apps in countries across the world. This also means that programmes and anchors/correspondents have a strong presence on social networking platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, reaching out to consumers on a variety of platforms. Twitter and Facebook have also been key in reporting breaking news, whether in the case of natural calamities such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami or social and political upheavals such as those witnessed in Egypt and Libya.

CNN International’s user generated online community, iReport, invites audiences to participate in the storytelling. For instance, post the earthquake in Japan, one of our iReporters in Japan brought our global audiences worldwide perspective on the on-ground situation via Skype. Have a look at a new concept we’ve developed called Open Story, which allows us to present a wide range of content about one issue on one page. In the first 36 hours after the quake and tsunami in Japan, we received more than 700 iReports, which became an integral part of our network’s coverage of that appall-ing story.

Why does monetisation of digital remain such a challenge? From the CNN experience, how much does digital contribute to top line and bottom line for the brand?

I can’t disclose commercial figures but I can say that CNN’s digital businesses are profitable and have been for many years.

You can read more excerpts from the Q&A online here.

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