Interview: Social Media on CNN

Was machen amerikanisches Sender wie CNN mit Social Media und was ist die Zukunft von News im Zeitalter von social media. Auf diese Fragen hatte Samuel Burke von CNN International auf der Social Media Week geantwortet.


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Transkription/Samuel Burke, CNN:

How relevant are Social Media for CNN?

Specifically for a news Company like CNN International, which is the CNN peoples young television outside of the United States all around the world and CNN Espanol, which is seen all across Latin America, Unites States and Canada, the major opportunity is a chance for the presenters and the reporters to connect with the viewers. For an international news company like ours we are in some ways removed from the viewers. If you are a national broadcaster from Germany let’s say, you can walk out on the street and people are gonna come up and tell you their opinion. But because we are broadcasting so many countries, people in Botswana for example may never have a chance to come up and walk up to Richard Quest and ask him „Why are you covering this story or why aren’t you covering the story?“ With email that changed and with social media that really changed. So social media allows any viewer at any moment to pick up their computer or their mobile device and talk to the presenters and to the reporters about why they are covering the story and so on. I think it really creates an environment where news viewers or the new users can be connected with CNN in a real conversation, so that they can have their voice heard and the presenters can talk to those people in a real time fast an meaningful way.

How can you make news suitable for Social Media?

I think one way that news content becomes suitable for a social media user is writing. I think very good writing, precise writing that can fit in a hundred and forty characters is a way to not to only inform your viewer/reader but to engage them, make them interested, click this link and follow that link to bring them more information. So I think that a tweet is just enough to inform a CNN viewer. A CNN viewer and user attends to be a very curious creature. So if they see a really well written tweet from maybe someone that they recognize from CNN television they might say: „ I wanna Find more out about that“ and then that link will take them to the story or tell them when the story is gonna be on CNN television. That’s the real chance to get that bulky hard information that they are used from CNN.

Can you give us some numbers?

It depends on what perspective you are looking at in terms of quantity, in terms of television. You can use the example of a time when one of our presenters got a guest in the last minute Peers Morgan and he had no time to promote on the usual traditional channels. He didn’t have time 24 hours ahead to run a commercial and inform about the upcoming show. He had just an hour to use Twitter to inform about his guest and the ratings were really great. So there is an isolated incident where you can say there were no other channels promoting this interview except for social media and delivered one of the best ratings that Mr. Morgans had as he had join the network. So that is one way you can quantify it and the other way is actually very simple and straightforward. You can count how many times somebody clicks a link you post on twitter that goes the You know instantaneously in real time. So if I send out a link I can see 10.000 people clicked on this link and came to to read the story.

How engaged is the CNN audience?

I think people are incredibly willing to participate and contribute. How can we measure contribution. I think is a way that you can measure. iReport has, I don’t know the exact number amount of people how have taking their camera mobile device, recorded a video or took a picture and wanted that story to got to CNN and then it’s send to and someone from CNN verifies it and you can see they really want to contribute. And how much do they want to interact? Well probably more than we can interact in the sense that you can have thousands of people telling one reporter about a story and the reporter is tweeting as many people as they possibly can but there are not enough minutes in the day to respond to everybody. So it’s impossible to say how much they wanna be engaged because it is really endless on social media.

How about user-generated content?

I think that any breaking news situation before we can get there, before local affiliates can get to a story, because it crazy to think that CNN can be at every last block the second a story happens. It make take us ten minutes to get there or an hour and in that time someone how is sitting on the corner can take a picture and send it to us and show that there is a fire or a bomb blast. That may not be enough to get on CNN’s television programs or to get on but maybe two or three of those people contributing can bring it in. That’s one way where we can take content and put it on air generated from social media. Another way that that can happen is people showing their interest in a story. Not just one person or one group tweeting about something but when you see that an entire country is interested in something than that something spreads not just with in the borders of one country but it spreads over to another country. It is very easy using social media tools to quantify the importance of a story to people and we can then take that and show that this is a story that is important to people. This is one of the ways that we know: look at what’s trending on social media and we have ways of visually showing that. That ending of it self becomes a content because as we see in Egypt and Tunisia it is undeniable that social media is part of the storing so we need to break that down and show how we know that for our viewers and make meaningful content out of it.

Do you see any risks in Social Media in News?

There are more benefits than there are threats but of course if the people only get their news from social media there is big threat to media companies in a sense that people have to come our website to see our television programs to help pay our journalism to send a reporter to Iraq, to send a reporter to Yemen. I don’t think that there is a big risk in that happening actually because I don’t think someone how really wants to be informed is going to understand Yemen and Iraq just by reading one tweet. Twitter allows us more of a change in how to share a story or to share a link to But some people how are light news-users run the risk of not knowing the whole story by only using Twitter. This could be seen as lost to us, but I think in the longer terms when someone sees good content and in depth stories in Libya and that shared on social media, it is more likely that people use social media to come back to us and to see that report, to get more of that quality reporting.

hat Publizistik und Soziologie studiert und lebt als freier Journalist in Berlin.

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