NewsTrack 7: CNN Wrap-Up

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For the past few months, I had the opportunity to monitor CNN as my NewsTrack site. The company has always been at the cutting-edge of its industry since the day it became the nation’s first all-news channel. I was a fan of CNN before I was randomly assigned to monitor the site, and doing so throughout the semester has only made me appreciate CNN.com and all it has to offer even more.

One way to evaluate CNN one final time would be to see whether or not its coverage lives up to its mission statement. That mission statement is as follows:

“Our mission is to create the finest possible news product and to present hard-breaking, national, and international news, as it unfolds. We deliver unparalleled perspectives across multiple categories, including political, medical, financial, technology, entertainment, and more.

At CNN, we know our news and want to share it. Our vision is for the network to be broadcasted to countries all over the world in English and the various regional languages. The journalists at CNN work around the clock, providing the latest news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We provide live coverage and analysis of news across numerous categories. At CNN, our goal is to deliver accurate information to our viewers with speed so that they are well informed at all times.”

From its instant coverage of the Brussels attacks in March to its comprehensive look into the life of Justice Scalia after his passing, throughout my time monitoring CNN they have more than lived up to their mission. The site provides up-to-date coverage, remains unbiased, and does so with a great deal of journalistic integrity and style.

Some of the things that I have enjoyed the most during my time monitoring CNN, and some of the pros of their content in general, would be:

  • Top-notch election/campaign coverage
    • CNN has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide its readers with only the best coverage of the 2016 presidential election. Politics are at the hallmark of CNN’s coverage, and through articles like this they have proven their prowess.
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With a whole section of its site dedicated to election coverage, CNN has its pulse on the 2016 presidential election.
  • Their social media presence
    • As an earlier NewsTrack post noted, CNN is one of the few companies to be on the Discover page on Snapchat, with new content every day. They also are very active on Twitter, with their Twitter page garnering 25 million followers.
  • Design, layout, overall look
    • The website is generally very easy to navigate, sections are well-organized and distinguished, and time stamps on articles are a great added touch. Their site is designed in such a way that keeps readers wanting to come back.
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CNN’s homepage is essentially flawless.
Although there are a number of things that CNN does really well, here a few areas where they could improve:
  • More video coverage
    • Although many of the articles on the site have a video embedded in the article or a related one attached, something that I would like to see from CNN in the future is more topical and pertinent videos relating to articles. Often times the video that is “linked” to an article has something to do with the piece, but is not directly related. More in-depth analysis type videos would be nice as well, instead of just plain news videos.
  • More interactive elements
    • In this multimedia journalism age, companies are constantly having to evolve and change their look to stay up to speed. I think CNN does a brilliant job of interacting with readers on social media, but I would like to see more of these interactive elements on their site. More polls and articles that readers can really engage with, things of that nature. An example of this would be the interactive election results app that the Boston Globe created. It was updated every 15 seconds, and gave readers another way to grapple with the data.

To close, I would most certainly recommend visiting CNN to anyone looking to stay on top of the news – both in the US and worldwide. Their coverage spans across a wide range of topics, and their digital team is constantly at work to stay on top of things in this ever-changing news environment. I will most definitely continue to monitor CNN as one of my main news outlets, and as long as they keep churning out excellent content in an engaging manner, I expect many others to do the same.

Live-Tweeting from Play It Forward: A Day of Sports

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The sports journalism panel was one of the highlights of the day.

Last Friday I had the pleasure of covering the first ever BU Sports Communication Summit: Play It Forward. The event discussed the future of sports and featured panels on sports safety, sports law, sports tech, and sports journalism. Hosted by Andrea Kremer, HBO correspondent and NFL Network co-host, the various discussions throughout the day included a number of prominent voices in the sports world – among them Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, co-founder of Concussion Legacy Foundation Chris Nowinski, NFL agent Neil Schwartz, Olympic Gold-Medalist Angela Ruggiero, and ESPN senior writer Kevin Blackistone. Check out my Storify that summarizes my coverage of the event.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day’s program and hope to see more events like this for aspiring sports journalists like myself at BU in the future.

 

NewsTrack 6: Brussels Attacks and CNN’s Snapchat Presence

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In the wake of the horrific terror attacks that occurred at Brussels’ main airport earlier this week, it is important for us as readers and concerned individuals to monitor the story as more details come to light. We, especially in the Boston area, know too well how jarring and demoralizing an attack like this can be. For me, since I have been following CNN for my NewsTrack site, I checked out their coverage of the bombings, which was unsurprisingly quite comprehensive and immediate.

CNN has released a number of articles regarding the incident, and has continued to update its readers regarding various new details, such as information about the attackers and other potential suspects. One way that CNN has chosen to engage with its readers and get the most up-to-date information out there is Twitter, but another more surprising means is Snapchat.

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CNN is one of a select few media outlets to use Snapchat’s Discover platform, which it updates daily with interactive content and videos. When you take a step back and realize that CNN has always been on the cutting edge of technology, this should come as no surprise. The company was the first television station to have around the clock coverage dedicated to the news, after all.

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CNN’s Snapchat has included live updates about the Bressels situation

Additionally, CNN has a number of articles on its site related to Snapchat and the way it has been used by the company to cover various events. It has been used a great deal in election coverage, getting exclusive interviews from candidates and supporters.

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I personally use Snapchat as more of a personal social media platform, choosing to get my news from actual papers, the internet, and often Twitter. That being said, I see the appeal of Snapchat as a potential news tool. Its ability to be instant and reach large audiences makes it an instant draw for companies like CNN looking to expand their multimedia coverage.

It remains to be seen whether Snapchat will continue to take off as a news tool, but CNN has certainly done a nice job in covering a very difficult situation in Brussels through the app. And as Andrew Morse, the GM of CNN Digital, said in an article regarding the Snapchat Discover feature, “We’re always seeking out new audiences and advertisers, and it’s more important than ever to tailor content to suit the platform. Snapchat is one of the most engaging platforms out there, and we’re excited to be able to program content specifically for that audience.” And programming content for specific audiences has never been a problem for CNN, so I do not foresee it being one in the near future.

Coming Soon to BU: American Idiot

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Director Sarah Gibson (COM ’18) looks on as her cast readies for a photoshoot.

For my most recent story, I covered the rehearsal process of BU On Broadway’s production of American Idiot. BU On Broadway is one of Boston University’s premier theater groups, which puts up three musicals per semester.

Whether you’re a first time actor, a huge theater fan, or simply love to sing and dance, there is something for everyone in BU On Broadway. If acting isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities behind the scenes as well, with stage-managing and tech options.

This semester I have had the pleasure of acting in BU’s production of American Idiot, straight from Broadway. The smash-hit musical tells the story of three lifelong friends as they struggle with pursuing their dreams and leaving the safety of their suburban town. Complete with smash-hits from the Green Day album, rockin’ dance numbers, and an outrageously talented cast, American Idiot is sure to be a show that you do not want to miss.

Check out my preview video to see what the rehearsal process has been like and hear from the director, Sarah Gibson (COM ’18) herself.

Rock on.

NewsTrack 5: Spotlight

On the heels of its “upset” win for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, there is a lot of buzz surrounding “Spotlight.”

The new film “Spotlight” shines a light on the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal, and how, through the diligent work of some investigative journalists from the Boston Globe, this story was finally brought to light. This harrowing look into scandal in one of the world’s biggest institutions – the Church – leads some to beg the question, “why did it take so long for this story to come to light?”

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The portrayal of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team earned the film Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards

However, the more appropriate response would be that of praise for the Spotlight team at the Globe who a spent a solid 18 months digging through Church records and interviewing countless victims. And a more appropriate question would be, “what does this mean for the future of journalism?”

Many journalists have been wondering what the future holds for their profession as multimedia platforms are becoming more prevalent and readership to newspapers is declining. That being said, the film should generate some buzz because it was the first film about journalism to win Best Picture since “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in 1947 and the likely the most influential since “All the President’s Men” made waves in 1976.

My NewsTrack site, CNN, touched on these points in a number of articles both recapping the film’s big win and looking toward the future of journalism.

One article focused on the celebration that ensued from actors and journalists alike following the Oscars, and noted that while it remains to be seen whether the success of the film will translate to more college students studying journalism, there is certainly an increased excitement surrounding the field.

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Another took a very different, but also informative approach. CNN sat down with the six real-life reporters portrayed in the film and presented the interview in conversation fashion, making it easily accessible to any audience. Topics ranged from the premiere felt like to the impact of the film.

Though it’s hard to predict what come next for journalism, I truly believe that it is an exciting time to be entering the field. There are loads of new opportunities and jobs that didn’t even exist yet 10 years ago, and if “Spotlight” taught us anything, it’s that there is always a need for good storytelling, reporting, and the truth.

NewsTrack 4: CNN and Video

After exploring CNN‘s site for over a month, I’ve come to find that video stories are some of their most effective. CNN’s around-the-clock coverage includes an extensive amount of written stories, but there is no shortage of videos on their site.

In fact, most articles on CNN will embed a related video. Often times this video will be taken straight from a recent CNN broadcast, but sometimes the videos are produced packages made exclusively for the website. My only gripe with this is that sometimes the video that is embedded with the article is unnecessary or off-topic. There are times when, as a reader, I’m just looking to read the news, not interact with it.

That being said, this recent post predicting the end of an era for political ads as we know it would have worked better as a video story in my opinion.

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CNN’s recent column about political ads would have been stronger as a video story

The column cites various instances recently where attack ads simply take too long to make their point, and notes that none of the ads can compete with Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Twitter.

A video story with some interviews from experts, past political ads to set the stage, and clips from recent ads would have made for a more immersive story.

This video, made exclusively for CNN Style, is a prime example of just how effective video stories can be. It explores the beauty of Italian car design, and includes interviews with those working in the field.

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The footage is brilliantly shot, the video is informative, and you also get to see some breathtaking views of Italy.

A can’t lose situation in my book. More like this, CNN.

NewsTrack 3: Coverage of Justice Scalia’s Death

Following the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, much has been said about what should be done with his seat moving forward. Should President Obama nominate a replacement for Scalia now? There has also been a great deal of coverage honoring the life of the first Italian-American justice.

CNN.com, my NewsTrack site, is always on top of its game in terms of covering the major issues, and this case is no different. For many Americans who may not have been familiar with Scalia beyond the fact that he was a significant conservative judge, CNN has published a number of articles celebrating his life and explaining his many accomplishments within the Supreme Court.

CNN’s home page, almost a week after his death, still has a variety of articles on this important topic, its implications, and the next steps to find his replacement.

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Upon further review, one can see that CNN, realizing politics is one of its areas of expertise, has over 100 articles, videos, and interactive stories about Scalia in just this short time period. Unlike its coverage of the Super Bowl, which was minimal, CNN has hit this topic hard, and rightfully so.

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Immediately following his death CNN published news-type articles simply outlining the facts regarding his death. There were also column-type pieces like this one that explain what Scalia meant to this country. There are even articles and videos integrated into their coverage that explore the conspiracy theories about his passing.

As always, CNN’s coverage is accessible to the average reader, and incorporates a number of multimedia elements into their stories that keep the readers coming back.

A tough story, but CNN handled it just about as well as one could hope a major news outlet would.