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CNN to air documentary offering ‘unfiltered look at reporting from Syria’

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On Friday CNN will air a one-hour documentary which looks at the “challenges and dangers” its team encountered while reporting from the Syrian city of Homs.

The broadcasting of the documentary, called ‘72 Hours Under Fire‘, comes two weeks after two Western journalists – Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik – were killed in the same city, after a building they were in was shelled.

According to a release, in the CNN documentary the broadcaster’s journalists who reported from Homs and the news executives “tasked with keeping them safe” will discuss the dangers taken as part of their aim of “getting the story out of Syria”.

The experienced team CNN sent into Homs included Beirut-based correspondent Arwa Damon, photojournalist Neil Hallsworth and security risk advisor Tim Crockett. 72 Hours Under Fire chronicles their journey into and out of Homs, the dangers they faced while newsgathering and reporting there and why this assignment was different than previous ones.

Below are two videos which have been published online by CNN ahead of the documentary:

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CNN launches new iReport site

CNN this week unveiled its new iReport site which, according to a blog post about the changes, will offer greater personalisation, an enhanced community through “groups” and a “favourite button”.

iReport is CNN’s platform for user-generated content, where non-journalists submit video stories, the best of which are broadcast on the news channel.

The update comes five years after iReport was launched and, according to CNN’s post, now has a community of “nearly a million people”.

Last month at news:rewired – connected journalism, CNN digital producer Dominique van Heerden shared some interesting statistics on iReport, such as that CNN had published 912,000 iReports since its launch, with 15,000 iReports published on average every month and 2.4 million unique users in June 2011.

In an article on the new version iReport, lostremote’s Natan Edelsburg said the aim was “to create the largest ‘social network for news,’ according to Lila King, participation director at CNN”.

Read lostremote’s report here.

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Mashable: Why CNN has acquired iPad magazine Zite

August 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile

Mashable has Q&A with CNN’s general manager of digital, KC Estenson, and CEO of Zite Mark Johnson explaining why the broadcaster has acquired the personalised iPad magazine.

Zite, like Flipboard, is an iPad app that allows users to aggregate news articles from feeds including Twitter and Google Reader to create a fully personalised magazine of the content of interest.

CNN announced on it’s blog yesterday that Zite will remain fully independent, a fact Estenson confirms in Mashable’s interview saying Zite will be free to pursue partnerships with other news organisations.

The interview starts by asking “why Zite?”.

Estenson: We saw in Zite a best-in-class product. It’s deeply loved by the people who have it, and we thought it would be a nice addition to our digital portfolio. Secondly, there’s great technology behind it. We’re seeing a lot of interest in this space now, but these guys have been working on this for six years.

Johnson: The iPad is really well suited to reading. I think what’s interesting about Zite is that it brings you really interesting information you might not have otherwise read. It’s not just repackaging information.

We’re seeing Flipboard move into TV and film, while Pulse is getting into bookmarklets and extensions. Where is Zite going next?

Johnson: We still see a huge market in giving you the information most relevant to you. We’re focusing on content right now, news-type content. We really want to focus on giving people a great personalised iPad magazine.

The interview goes on to ask:

Can we expect CNN’s content to feature more prominently on Zite in the future?

Johnson: Absolutely not. Our personalisation algorithms look for most interesting content on the web, whether that comes from CNN or elsewhere. Our algorithms are completely agnostic.

The full Q&A is at this link

 

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The Economist’s Twitter followers click links, Al Jazeera’s retweet, study finds

August 5th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

A new study has looked at how six news sites’ Twitter followers engage and react to tweets. Twitter content publishing platform SocialFlow has assessed the Twitter audiences of Al-Jazeera English, BBC News, CNN, the Economist, Fox News and the New York Times.

The study is based on bit.ly and Twitter data from more than 20 million tweets posted by the seven million users who follow these accounts on Twitter.

It has revealed some interesting facts:

  • Engagement can be read in clicks. The Economist has a highly active and engaged audience in terms of both clicks per tweet and retweets per tweet, suggesting a high level of alignment between content posted and attention users are willing to provide.
  • Audiences differ in their willingness to consume and share information on Twitter. Al-Jazeera’s audience is the most active in terms of publishing and retweeting content on Twitter, while the Fox News audience generates substantially more clicks from its audience.
  • A large number of followers doesn’t necessarily translate into action. Despite being the largest account, the New York Times garners the fewest clicks per tweet when audience size is normalised and earns many fewer retweets when compared to accounts that are much smaller.
  • Timing and topical interest matter when seeking attention. By arranging audience tweets into topic maps, we were able to visualise the flow of attention between topics of interest, across the different audiences.

It is worth being aware that this is what SocialFlow does: it offers solutions to businesses wanting to maximise the effectiveness of their tweets by timing them to get the most reaction.

Click throughs

One of the points the study draws out is that where the Economist’s highly engaged Twitter audience clicks on links to the associated news article, Al Jazeera’s audience behaves differently. The study finds Al Jazeera English has the most retweets per tweet but followers are not necessarily clicking links – an all important goal for web publishers.

The takeaway for publishers is one of topics, network and timing, as the report states.

Knowing when an addressable audience is available and what topics they’d like to engage in is key to earning their attention.

The study also points out that a Twitter audience is measurable and this should be analysed and used “to inform content development strategies and marketing planning”.

While clicks bring immediate returns, retweets and other forms of audience participation raise trust and brand awareness, both imperatives for maintaining sustained growth. A high number of followers is not indicative of an engaged audience; a high click-through rate doesn’t necessarily yield other engagement metrics such as retweets and new followers.

By paying attention to long established demographics, collective audience behavior and the mercurial and fickle moment-to-moment signals, we step away from conjectures, generalisations, and assumptions, and leverage the audience itself in determining how best to interact.

SocialFlow has also created a Twitter visualisation looking at engagement with @AJEnglish. Topics have been mapped using over the period of an hour. The larger the topic node, the more it was discussed on Twitter during that hour. Click on the visualisation to download SocialFlow’s diagram as a PDF and explore it.

The full report is at this link

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CNN launches first iReport citizen journalism awards

February 15th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Awards, Citizen journalism, Editors' pick

CNN today announced it was launching its first ever iReport Awards, to celebrate the contributions of its citizen journalist iReporters and recognise the “most extraordinary iReport stories of 2010”.

There are six award categories in total – breaking news, compelling imagery, commentary, interviewing, original reporting and personal stories.

Our producers looked at hundreds of iReports to find the most amazing stories, and then we worked with our friends at CNN, CNN International and CNN.com to choose the five nominees in each category. It was a tough job, with hours spent agonizing over the lists. Picking the winners will be even tougher, so we’ve recruited a talented group of judges to make the final call.

Visitors to the site can also vote for the winner of a separate Community Choice Award until 7 March. The winners will be announced in March.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defends choice to walk out of CNN interview

November 5th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defended his decision to walk out on an interview with CNN last week in a one-on-one with Al Jazeera’s the Listening Post today.

According to Assange, the CNN interview, specially arranged with journalist Atika Shubert, had broken agreed ground rules stating it would only cover the stories revealed in the Iraq war logs release about Iraqi citizens. Assange claimed that the journalist later called him to apologise and said she had been instructed to go off script by her bosses.

Assange once more questioned mainstream media’s relationship with WikiLeaks. He spoke about the changing situation between the New York Times, which was involved in the Afghan war logs publication but has recently criticised Assange in its pages, and the whistleblowing site:

My impression is that the Times feels that its forced in that position, that simply is the real politic. In order for the Times to keep its influence as a newspaper… It has to act in a defensive manner and one of the ways to defend yourself is to distance yourself from people… My very strong suspicion is that you discover what happens when you don’t do that, when it appears that you’re criticising the US military… your proprietor suffers as a result, your access to military sources suffers as a results.

Assange said that since the site’s foundation getting people to submit information and mounting a legal defence – the things he thought would be most challenging – had proved relatively easy. Getting coverage of the material that’s leaked away from reports on the organisation itself has been more difficult, he said.

Details of the show can be found at this link…

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RWW: Who owns a fired staffer’s Twitter account?

Who “owns” a Twitter account when a presenter gets fired? ReadWriteWeb asks the questions following CNN and presenter Rick Sanchez’s parting of ways over comments he made about Jon Stewart and Jewish control of the media.

His Twitter account @RickSanchezCNN has more than 146,000 followers at time of writing. Asks RWW:

Did CNN lose out on the social media investment they put into Sanchez’s personal account over the years? Ought they have driven all followers to an official company account instead, in case something like this happened? Presumably some people would see it that way, but social media is so personality-driven that wouldn’t likely have worked as well.

Full post at this link…

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Video: CNN mobile event, the Frontline Club

August 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

“Mobile is as different to online as television is to radio,” CNN’s vice-president of mobile Louis Gump told an audience at the Frontline Club, in an event supported by Journalism.co.uk.

You can now watch video of the event below, including discussion of the role of mobile journalism in the newsroom and the opportunities offered to journalists by mobile technologies:



Related coverage on Journalism.co.uk:

Podcast from the CNN Mobile event

Blog round-up of mobile journalism discussion

CNN launches free international news app for iPhone and iPod Touch

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Active-duty Marines ‘reverse embedded’ at CNN Money, Chicago Tribune

Writing on the Upshot, John Cook has an interesting investigation into “reverse embedding”, a practice “which permits active-duty service personnel to serve as interns in major media companies – sometimes in an editorial capacity”.

The practice is part of the military’s Training With Industry (TWI) programme, which allows military officers to leave the service for up to a year to work for private companies in a wide variety of sectors. But Cook’s article draws attention to the problem with placing officers in media positions, alleging that they may be “gleaning insights and intelligence into how media organisations operate, and perhaps helping to shape the way they cover the military”.

The TWI operation achieved some notoriety in 2000, when Dutch and French media reported that CNN had invited US Army psychological operations soldiers into its newsroom to serve as interns. Embarrassed at having hosted military disinformation specialists,  the network acknowledged that it was a mistake and said in a statement that “the intern program was terminated as soon as the leadership of CNN learned of it.”

Now, however, the program appears to have been reactivated – at CNN and elsewhere.

Full post at this link…

(via Fishbowl NY)

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‘There’s a killer app on your phone. It’s called a phone’: Journalists talk mobile at CNN event

July 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Events, Mobile, Online Journalism

Journalists from across all media platforms came together at the Frontline Club last night to discuss the impact of mobile on the newsroom and the wider media world.

“Mobile is as different to online as television is to radio,” CNN’s vice-president of mobile Louis Gump told the Frontline audience.

In the beginning people took someone who was sitting in the radio studio and put a camera on it. Then realised they didn’t have to do it that way. I think that’s what happening now.

He told Journalism.co.uk that the near future of mobile content needs to look at original content, rather than just using it as a new platform for existing material.

The biggest change I think will happen at CNN over the next two years is we are going to start creating content just for mobile devices. Right now most of what you see on a mobile from CNN you can also find on other platforms, but we will have more original programming.

The panel debate covered most of the ongoing issues surrounding mobile journalism, from the role a device plays in the image of a journalist to the debate over how such content should be used by ‘professional’ video journalists. Andy Dickinson, course leader of BA Digital Journalism Production at University of Central Lancashire, said it was a “mistake” to expect large news organisations to adopt the same production processes as smaller outlets.

I think it is a mistake to always be talking about what’s happening outside mainstream media, it won’t work for us. We can’t do it because of our agenda and personal and professional things get in the way of that. Now and then our big spotlight will land on it. But citizen journalism is not there to replace, it’s there to amplify.

Gump agreed, saying that the rise of citizen journalism “increases the value” of professional journalists, by “filling in the gaps”, but would not be a replacement: “We are still telling the hard news, [citizen journalism] enriches the overall offering”. Alex Wood, freelance mobile journalist and co-founder of Not on the Wires, added that mobiles were simply another platform to leverage the story. But he said in his own work, such as when he organised mass coverage of the G20 summit by mobile phones, the journalistic talent still had to shine through.

I always try to keep the integrity of the story and still worked very hard to make it journalistic. People tend to obsess about technology being one thing after another. Why not use your mobile phone to do your vox pops. There’s nothing wrong with you then putting that into a more traditional package. It’s another tool in the ever expanding toolkit that journalists have now. We can still take things from broadcast, for example framing a good shot and having good audio. Let’s go back to the basics but use them in the new technology.

He added that as a journalist using user generated content, old rules of fact-checking must still apply.

People can manipulate technology very easily and its still a worry. Journalists still need to pick up the phone and speak to the person if they have submitted media. We should always keep to those standards.

Jonathan Hewett, director of the newspaper journalism course at City University, agreed: “We are not going to chuck out the old stuff and forget the valuable lessons”. Prompting Dickinson to respond: “There’s a killer app on your phone that will allow you to check if something is right. It’s called your phone.”

Hewett said mobile has created opportunities for newspapers who do not have the visual reputation of a broadcaster, but more needs to be done.

Newspapers have been slower to catch up with more innovative stuff, but they are getting to realise mobile reporting is one way where a newspaper website can be different. It isn’t too fussed about quality of footage (…) We are still at early stage with mobiles full stop. We need to keep throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Wood commented near the end of the panel debate that he wanted to see more innovation from iPad apps, which he claimed had so far been “disappointing”, telling Journalism.co.uk to expect to see some exciting stuff from him in the near future.

CNN also announced the launch of a new international iPhone app featuring their iReport platform at the event. See our report here, and catch up with tweets from the event with the #cnnfrontline hashtag.

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