CNN’s Web Service Should Make Online Newspaper Editors Very Nervous

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By: Steve Outing

CNN has announced its new Web site, CNN Interactive, and it’s a serious competitive threat to what many newspapers are trying to accomplish online.

CNN bills the service as “the only site with a 24-hour full-time staff reporting constantly updated news augmented by video, sound clips, still photographs and maps as well as text. … CNN’s site incorporates the network’s unmatched news gathering resources of 2,500 people including 9 domestic and 21 international bureaus.”

This is not a promotional site, but rather a legitimate and extensive online news service. For now, it is a free site. CNN officials say they are exploring various options for funding the service, which probably will include a mix of advertising, subscription fees and other forms of revenue.

This is not an unexpected development, of course. The World Wide Web is an open battleground where many types of media are jockeying for position. Broadcasters have the opportunity on the Web to go toe to toe with print media on neutral ground.

The intrinsic differences between television and print are wiped out online. Today’s Web news consumer can choose CNN Interactive or the San Jose Mercury News’ Mercury Center Web, for example. Much of the content and presentation will be the same on Mercury Center as it is on CNN Interactive. For the Internet user, the choice is no longer which medium — paper or TV — but which institution to trust as the favored purveyor of news.

>From my first cursory look at CNN Interactive, I would give it an edge over most of the newspaper Web services. CNN has done a nice job of incorporating its visual/audio elements into the Web environment. As you read a story, you’ll happen upon an audio or video clip, for example.

CNN has just raised the bar for online news services. Online newspaper service operators have been issued a challenge: bring your services to the next level or CNN will take away your Internet readers.

Movin’ On

Anchorage Daily News editor Howard Weaver is leaving the Pulitzer-winning newspaper after 14 years to become assistant to the president of new media strategies for the McClatchy newspaper group in Sacramento. He’ll be making the move sometime later this year. (The Daily News is a McClatchy property.)

Weaver is one of a handful of top U.S. editorial executives who has a serious commitment to and personal interest in new media, so I’m not too surprised by the move. He moves into the position not long after McClatchy acquired the Raleigh News & Observer, which has one of the foremost new media divisions among U.S. newspapers.

“I’m 44 years old, I’ve been in Alaska all my life, and I’ve edited this newspaper for 14 years,” Weaver said in a press interview. “This is just an opportunity to combine a subject I’m really interested in with a challenge that strikes me as really invigorating.”

Steve

Clarification

In Wednesday’s item about Henrik Tengby’s move to Riksmedia AB in Stockholm, the wording may have left the impression that Riksmedia was in a joint venture with PTT Telias’ division Multimedia and the Swedish Post’s PostNet division. The Riksmedia project, which is bringing online the content of 50 newspapers, is delivering content non-exclusively to both the PTT and PostNet platforms.

Got a tip? Let me know about it

If you have a newsworthy item about the newspaper new media business, please send me a note at steve@planetarynews.com.

This column is written by Steve Outing and underwritten by Editor & Publisher magazine. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at steve@planetarynews.com

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