Friday, April 06, 2007

CNN broadcasts compelling content but misses the BBC Best Bets idea

In the early days of the Web I attended a computer conference in Atlanta. I met a young CNN producer and talked about the Web to him. I ended up at CNN headquarters showing color prints of screen shots explaining the nascent Web, including images of the MSU weather pages, brainchild of Charles Henrich.

This morning CNN leads with video of a tearful five year old lad racing to hug his dad, back from war in the Middle East:

This is very compelling video. Whether you are a parent or not, if you watch this footage, it will tear at your heart strings. Now observe how CNN fails to promote its own content:

Amazingly you can't find CNN's own compelling footage on Search for it under "tearful reunion" -- CNN's own on-screen label -- and you get a lot of irrelevant fluff totally unrelated to the story.

CNN should implement a Best Bets regime. Period. Full stop. If someone at CNN sees this post, contact me. CNN doesn't "get" the notion of "Best Bets". Guest what, CNN -- the BBC, and the Financial Times, do get it. Is it CNN's plan to cede territory to them as you have to Fox News?

If a site visitor searches for a phrase that CNN shows on the TV screen, then it should match the user to that story on the Web.

Circa 1994 I visited CNN headquarters in Atlanta and showed producers and reporters this new thing called the World-Wide Web. It was pretty clear that only one guy, the producer giving me the tour, "got it" at the time. I sincerely doubt that in 2007 anyone at CNN understands that they can link search keywords and phrases to CNN content with incredible impact.

Here is a screen shot of CNN's home page at the time they featured the reunion:

Click for full-size screen shot

Memo to CNN: what your TV techs type into the Chyron also belongs in your Best Bets database. If it's worth telling a story to millions of people on cable TV, it's worth helping your Web site visitors follow the same story online.

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