August 25, 2006
CNN's toughest mobile bureau
One of the two is currently on display at CNN Center, where I saw it on Wednesday.
The vehicles were mobile uplink units with portable video editing capabilities, but also served as homes in the field for a reporter, technician, cameraman, and driver/bodyguard.
Martin Savidge and Walter Rodgers reported from the two CNN Hummers.
Here's CNN's placard on the high-mobility multiwheeled broadcast vehicles, and here are two other views.
January 10, 2005
CNN goes RSS. Finally.
Only 5-6 years after some of us started using RSS inside the organization, CNN has launched public RSS feeds. Here's a page with all the CNN feeds, one with all the CNNSI.com feeds, and one for CNN/Money.
Why did it take so long? No one still at CNN is likely to say so, but for a long time, CNN.com made a lot of money from an affiliates program, where local TV stations could use CNN.com content on their website (and CNN.com would direct users looking for local news to their website). CNN's fear was that making the same content available "for free" would mean no one would pay to be an affiliate.
I can't speak to the current health of that program, since I can't find any sign of it on CNN.com today. Meantime, other news providers are providing RSS feeds that serve dual functions: free to end users, commercial to resellers. Reuters, for instance, offers 17 different news feeds, and my company is one of the commercial customers (would that all our content partners had RSS feeds; sometimes we have to screen-scrape to get their content).
The feeds that CNN does provide look terrific. It's going to be interesting to watch their "most popular" feeds updating in real-time, like a single-site Blogdex or Daypop's Top 40. They're slightly limited because they can't re-syndicate wire content, which makes up a significant chunk of their news. The only other news provider offering the variety of feeds CNN is publishing is The New York Times, with 30 feeds, including a dedicated feed just for David Pogue.
I'm really looking forward to spending some time with CNN.com again. One of my old co-workers had asked me about RSS, and some suggestions on setting up these official feeds, and I told him:
... CNN has almost vanished from my browsing world. Some of that is from the site changes when editorial functions moved back to the networks, but largely it's because I can use the newsreader as a newsfilter; Paul Beard and I used to debate whether that possibility was a net good or bad thing, since it means I don't get exposed to some news that's probably "good for me" in a nagging Mom sort of way. Whether it's good or bad, it's happening, and for CNN to ignore it would be like saying 'We're good with cable -- we don't want to be on satellite TV.'
One other note: If you've been pulling CNN from one of the several services (or through server scripts) that have been manually building feeds, you should probably switch over to these new feeds. They're guaranteed to work going forward, while some of the services scrape some fairly non-standard pages that might not survive for much longer.
Update: On my first trip through the new feeds, I found a story on Walgreen's (a stock we hold), a story on Macworld tomorrow, a story on a "little medieval armor shop" I forwarded directly to Shane, and two (2!!!) cycling stories.
September 21, 2003
This is ... a chance to drive revenue
Unfortunately CNN is no longer available through the PDA AvantGo service.
Coming Soon, CNN will be introducing exciting new content and services for your mobile devices, simply enter your email address to receive the latest information.
I'm looking for a minimal page for CNN, even though the main page works all right with my phone's browser, anygraaf's Doris Browser.
I've submitted my e-mail address for updates, but here's another example of CNN trading off viewership for (what I suspect will be) premium services.
April 18, 2003
Somebody found the canned obituaries for CNN. It's not a very big deal -- if you're going to be ready to respond to the death of a major figure in near real-time, you have to have the bones of their obituary prepared in advance.
It reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine while he was an intern at the Miami Herald. At the time, the interim president of the University of Georgia was a former president of the University of Miami named Henry King Stanford.
One day, my friend was leafing through the Herald's news queues, when he discovered an obituary for Stanford. He knew Stanford was on an expedition to Mount Everest over the summer, so he started calling around in Athens to see if he might have died on the trip. (He didn't -- it was a canned obit, like those linked above.)
The next thing you know, the story makes it to the Athens papers, with a "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" slant.
December 19, 2002
Welcome to CNNLebanon.com, Lebanon's news source
The new streamlined domain conflict resolution process has yielded 325 new domain names for CNN, including cnnshoppingcenter.com, cnn-canada.com, and cnnlebanon.com.
December 12, 2002
Captain Outrageous at the UN
I have been all over the map on Ted Turner. In the '70s, I thought he was JALM -- Just Another Loudmouth Millionaire.
In the early '90s, he gave a commencement speech at UGA's law school, focusing on absolutely nothing, wandering from the value of psychotherapy to his knowledge of marriage (gleaned from a few marriages) and all over the map.
As he grew more political, I felt more simpatico, and his heart is certainly in the right place. There have been few more courageous philanthropies in American history than Ted's billion-dollar gift to the UN, detailed in this story .
December 08, 2002
Somebody caught the CNN SmartBoard blue-screening. I helped set it up when we first got it. It's a sweet system; internally, it's sort of like an overhead projector that projects onto the inside of the screen you're seeing. Originally, it was intended for shots from the CNN Interactive newsroom of web pages in the news and for CNN's ill-fated computer show, CNN Computer Connection. I doubt it's still running the HP Vectra we set it up with, but with all the layoffs of tech staff and Interactive personnel, it might be.
By the way, I've now mentioned CNN enough that I'm adding a category for CNN stories.
November 04, 2002
Favorite quote from the Reliable Sources transcript:
STEWART: You guys are confusing yourselves with real journalists.
KURTZ: Oh boy, you're loaded (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today.
STEWART: Instead of putting on shows like "CROSSFIRE" and "Gotcha" and "I'm Going To Kick Your Ass With Tucker Carlson" and "Let's Beat Up The Short Guy." That was just one that I...
KURTZ: I'm glad you're at least watching so much CNN, Jon.
STEWART: I am watching it constantly. It's driving me insane. Make the ticker stop. You're in the middle of a damn sniper story, and all of a sudden underneath it, you know, "Liza Minnelli's first VH1 show to air."
Another good exchange:
STEWART: ... Fox, let's face facts, is a relatively cynical undertaking, to begin with.
STEWART: Well, it's basically, it's taken the AM radio mentality and labeled it fair and balanced just to upset you guys.
KURTZ: A lot of people watch.
STEWART: Of course, a lot of people watch. A lot of people watch wrestling. A lot of people watch -- you know, you could put on porn, and I think a lot of people would watch it.
But I think they call it fair and balanced just as kind of a dig. I mean, it's not. It's clearly meant to be more ideological and more opinion-based. They took the paradigm of AM radio. By the way, I enjoy what those guys do. I find it fun to watch. It's just not a news network.
The Daily Show is the only election coverage I'm looking forward to.
I think part of the reason I like The Daily Show is part of the reason I like weblogs: They're both done in a medium that they're also about.
For those unfamiliar, The Daily Show is a newscast about newscasts; most of the humor comes from their overuse, exaggeration, or willful opposition to the threadbare conventions of TV news.
A few of my other favorite meta-media:
Musical about musicals: Singin' in the Rain
Movie about movies: Paris When it Sizzles
Novel about novels: Philip Roth's The Great American Novel
TV show about TV shows: Sports Night
Play about plays: The Actor's Nightmare, by Christopher Durang
November 01, 2002
Looks like the news merger is still on, but not complete. One rumor had Ted Turner announcing it on Aaron Brown's Newsnight as soon as tonight, but Newsnight staff say no guests are scheduled. Ted Koppel joked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that he was "going to stop the merger of CNN and ABC."
Koppel's main beef with the 24-hour networks is that they can't disengage when a big story is in progress, so you get a stream of undigested information, instead of a considered perspective on events. Asked if any of the news networks had succeeded in offering something like Nightline, Kopple pointed to National Public Radio, which received a near standing-ovation response from the Daily Show crowd.
October 07, 2002
Even Exchange is better
Time magazine is declaring its independence from AOL Time Warner -- sort of. After using America Online e-mail since the merger, the magazine is switching to Microsoft e-mail rather than sticking with the parent company. "We're delighted to bring you a system that will match your business needs," Time executives said in a memo.
AOL tried this at CNN, as well, but the furor stopped it in its tracks.