Time Magazine’s Rishi Iyengar was recently appointed by CNN Digital Worldwide as India Editor of CNN Money. With the said move, the global broadcasting giant is aiming to widen its influence in the country. “From our perspective, it is a very exciting time to be increasing our presence and expanding our footprint in India,” says Mark Thompson, International Managing Editor at CNN Money.
Last year, CNN Money began to test the waters for its news operations in India by moving Charles Riley from Hong Kong to New Delhi. Now that Riley has been sent to London and is heading CNN Money’s team in Europe, Iyengar is expected to take forward the work that was initiated during Riley’s tenure.
Since the past four years, CNN Money has followed a phased process of expansion. They have grown into a bigger organisation as they have hired more professionals in places like Dubai, Hong Kong, London and New Delhi. “We had to think about ways to further develop our coverage in India given the success that we have seen with our audience in the last six to nine months,” Thompson tells exchange4media.
According to him, CNN Money’s video starts have gone up by nearly 40 per cent in India since February 2016. Unique visitors to the website also recorded an increase of 16 per cent. Speaking of audience preferences, he says, “They are really after some succinct, engaging, explanatory videos. We are very creative with the use of video graphics and I think that is one of the most appealing things in the market.”
A subsection devoted to India will go live on CNN Money next month. Initially, reports of entrepreneurial successes of youngsters from around the country will be showcased. Another idea is to get individuals to try and predict where India will be in a time span of three years. Thomson asserts that intention is to bring out stories from the whole of India.
“I am sure that some of those will be told from the rural side of the country. You can’t ignore the fact that most people here are not in urban centres,” he says. As a global destination for business and financial news, the challenge before CNN Money is to tell complex stories involving major economies. The impact of such reportage is manifold as the broadcaster claims to command a highly influential audience consisting of senior management officials and chief executive officers.
India is particularly important for CNN Money due to the bright economic opportunities that it has to offer. “India is a rare bright spot at the moment if you look around the world with a slowing growth rate,” the editor says as he points out that India stands out when compared with other emerging market economies.
The popularity of news television in India has witnessed the rise of several business channels who report on significant financial developments in both English and Hindi. Thompson believes that they are different from their competitors since CNN specialises in providing news from a global perspective.
“If you want an intelligent overview of the major business stories of the day globally then that’s what we give. We give it in a very straightforward style. We try and cut through the noise of corporate jargon on macroeconomic data or bankers’ technical speak and tell a story how it is, what it means and why it matters,” he says.
In the age of information overload, Thompson stresses that they are looking towards catering to those people who do not have the time “to go through six pages of business news” and “are not following markets or business on a daily basis”. While videos are indeed CNN’s biggest asset, much of the work is done through illustrations, graphics and text.
Unlike other news media giants who are thinking of being digital-first, CNN will stick to a genuine multiplatform approach. In February, when CNN Money was re-launched globally, efforts began to completely integrate television business programming with CNN Money Digital. However, Thompson feels that television is in their DNA.
“What we have come to realise in the last couple of years with the considerable investment that CNN has made in CNN Digital globally is that we need to be where our audience is,” he says. Conceding that the audience is increasingly using mobile devices to consume news and coming to CNN through social media, he highlights CNN’s attempts of analysing real-time audience data through CNN Money War Room.
Talking about the corporation’s future plans, Thompson adds, “Our mantra at CNN Money is about being global, all over mobile and having excellent videos. As long as we are able to hit those three things then I think we have got the right recipe.” He further adds that if one does that and stays true to CNN’s core brand values of doing high-quality journalism then success is guaranteed.