Time to evaluate CNN’s All-Platform Journalists

MARIETTA, Ga.–   There’s a story to be told about the stories being told by some of the newest additions to the staff at the oldest of the three major cable news channels, CNN.

While there was no shortage of naysayers when CNN announced in 2008 that it was hiring 10 all-platform journalists,  there has been little done to examine their  journalistic work product.

The Questions

Does it matter that these s0-called APJs are shooting television news content differently?

Does it matter that they create a video news product that looks more like that of a newspaper employee doing video than a polished, broadcast “package” (a term often used for self-contained news report)  even though they represent a newsroom whose core product is broadcast?

Are these journalists producing content that is worthy of journalistic recognition as examples of good storytelling?

The Man Implementing the Plan

Victor Hernandez, director of coverage for CNN Domestic operations, talked about All-Platform Journalist at a 2009 management seminar sponsored by the Radio-Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF). Courtesy: Advancing the Story blog

These are questions that came to mind as I listened Saturday night to Victor Hernandez, who coordinates domestic news coverage for CNN.  That includes directing the content of five so-called “all-platform journalists,” who essentially are one-person bureaus in various cities around the U.S.

Hernandez was the keynote speaker at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Green Eyeshade Awards Saturday night at a campus near here- Kennesaw State University.

Every time I come back to Kennesaw State, which is in Cobb County, my former residence,  it’s like a homecoming.    I spent the majority of my  broadcast  journalism career producing newscasts in this market, which at that time was the tenth largest in the nation,  at a station that now is hiring what used to be called “one-man bands.”

For those non-journalists reading this post, a “one-man band” is a reporter who also shoots, edits his or her own content.

While Hernandez readily admits he “hates the term one-man band,”  he clearly loves what his network is doing in creating reporters who create content that “move past the 1:30 quick and dirty.”  (reference to the traditional one-minute, 30-sec television package that viewers have become accustomed to seeing in local and network newscasts).

Instead, the all-platform journalists may produce blog pieces like this, a video report exclusively for CNN’s highly successful Web site, CNN.com, a photo gallery with still images  or all of the above.

The All Platform Journalists

Jim Spellman

This summer Jim Spellman spoke with Gary Faulkner who went to Pakistan to look for Osama Bin Laden.  He produced an edited interview and then did what’s commonly referred to as “talkback” with CNN anchor Drew Griffin.  This would appear to be very traditional broadcast news.   But, it was the type of story that he turned that was different.

Spellman’s work on homeless children was highlighted by Victor in his discussion on Saturday night.

Another example of  Jim’s work was a story about medical marijuana, which was a news package shot with a little unconventional, “edgy approach”

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Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

1 thought on “Time to evaluate CNN’s All-Platform Journalists”

  1. Hello there fellow Howard Graduate!

    I recently have been studying the roles of All-Platform Journalists in today’s news industry and I could not help but feel a little curious when you said,

    “Does it matter that they create a video news product that looks more like that of a newspaper employee doing video than a polished, broadcast “package” (a term often used for self-contained news report) even though they represent a newsroom whose core product is broadcast?”

    So, are you saying that APJs are not talented in what they do and that their work is not for television? If so, why not? And what is your definition of polished? What APJs are you looking at that is making you think this way? Send an email if you would like, but I am curious to know!

    Thank you! : )

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