As everyone should know, South Korean rapper Psy's new single called "Gentleman" over the weekend. I decided to try something different and look at CNN's website for the story because I remembered from class that the senior editor for features on CNN Digital Mira Lowe said that she wanted the site to obtain a reputation for one that you come to for everything, no matter how big or small the story. Lowe went into the explanation of the issue and many other points during her Wednesday visit to our JOUR 2100's class.
The CNN digital editor first thanked everyone for their suggestions and comments on the pages she worked with. The pages include entertainment, tech, health, living and travel. She found out from the feedback that the Living and Travel sections needed more pictures. But the students described the stories as "well-done and relatable."
Lowe also taught the class some typical jargon used in online journalism: "T's" meant top story and "C's" meant the center story on a cover. She defined "verticals" as the categories within the row above the CNN title.
Then the digital editor let the students in on a little secret in regard to the site's viewer statistics. From the homepage to money verticals and any others in between, men dominated as the top readers of CNN's website.
"Our site over all the dominance is males," Lowe said. "We're trying to figure out why that is."
She said that software came down to the realization of the statistics.
"There is a lot of software that allows you to track," Lowe said. "We rely on the research department and they figure [the stats] out for us."
But Lowe gave the suggestion that the results came from the homepage.
"If the homepage is dominantly male, the entertainment and everything else would be dominantly male. So we’re going to change that."
She then went into CNN's blogs. The specific pages either update people about things that are happening within the world or focus on new areas that are usually not essential topics within CNN's content.
"We have adopted the live-blogging model," Lowe said. That meant when push came to shove about whether the news source would use live-blogging or live-tweeting that CNN preferred blogging. That way CNN could provide notes and more extensive information through three or four paragraphs.
We also didn't cover it within our blog posts, but the editor showed us something known as the "Trending" page. It's a useful tool on CNN for anybody who just wants to see what's going on throughout the world.
"It allows us to look at what's trending on our site compared to other sites," Lowe said.
Other blogs that Lowe informed the journalists about included the Belief blog and the Schools of Thought blog. They focused on religion and education respectively. Even the photo department has their own blog. The staff makes sure that the photos provide more of a background on what's happening.
Yes: all of CNN's blogs came in an extensive amount. But whether the online source continued updating them was a different story.
"Blogs come and go based on interest and resources," Lowe explained. "There may be others that we want to play on based on these factors."
Lowe ended with advice in reference to the students moving on further within their journalism careers. She said that a writer, just as CNN tries doing every day, should pay attention to voice, insight and the information supplied.
"The channels: that has been our focus on not just the news but from the person's point of view," She said. "Focusing on the people is something that we're trying to do."
The editor ended with a CNN video known as "The Gift of Charles," a clip about a teenage son's relationship with his family as he was dying. She emphasized the personal stories and the emotions from the characters as examples of what the students should include in their own multimedia packages with their own interviewees.
"If it’s compelling enough and you have the content to carry," she said, "people will watch it."
Lowe was right: having compelling information is key. Looking for the Psy story, I scrolled through the entertainment section just to see if CNN had Psy there, and the page did. The article implicated to me that CNN is trying to bring in people of all backgrounds, ages and interests with all types of packages including photo galleries or videos on well-known people.
Maybe I'll look at CNN more often. And perhaps if I focus my writing and multimedia on deep and personal stories and include an international perspective now and then, I could reach as big of an audience as the news source. I wish the best with your future content, CNN.