Published - 13-February-2006
Rajdeep Sardesai's CNN-IBN website
has an innocuous button that highlights
"IBN blogs". These blogs are
sometimes related to what has
appeared on TV, sometimes not.
What is interesting is the level of
interactivity with CNN-IBN viewers.
What is more interesting is that the blogs seem unpoliced, often selfregulated by the contributors. The maximum response noticed by us thus far is to CNN-IBN's breaking news coverage of the individual who immolated himself in full view of the CNN-IBN camera. This raised the debate: should the cameraman have stopped rolling and tried to prevent the tragedy or should he have continued with his "job"?
Sardesai sprung forward in defence, only to be pummeled by a barrage of responses from irate and different minded viewers. We reproduce (with permission) Sardesai's rejoinder to the responses, and a few, select responses to the rejoinder.
Why do we reproduce this exchange? Because we are intrigued by where this exercise could end up. Could the opinion of the letter writers cause a channel to change tack?
Could the writers define the stance, and indeed, a positioning and segmentation for the channel - and create a community of loyalists? Impact also spoke to Sardesai on his views on the glasnost.
What is the role that you expect the blogs on CNN IBN to play?
a) in the short run - story by story.
Blogs create a strong basis for interactivity. They enable the viewer in a sense to feel more "involved" with the journalist doing the story; to that extent, a blog on a story enables the viewer to "connect" to a story
b) in the long run - for the channel
We want our journalists to be more than just people who do P-To-Cs on camera. We want them to express themselves, relate to their audiences more closely, more intimately. A blog in the long run is part of this process -- its part of our commitment to create a "journalist-driven" channel
Do you think this interaction with your viewers will "hand over" some degree of editorial control to the viewer?
A blog doesn't hand over control, but makes journalism a two way process, based on constant feedback from audiences. Channels often "talk down" to viewers. We don't.
What was your initial expectation of the effectiveness of the blogs, and could you compare it vis-à-vis the actual experience?
I had no idea initially how effective blogs would be, but it's turned out to a real differentiator. It's creating an entirely new audience for us, its giving our website a feel of genuine interactivity.
Could you compare blogs with Letters to the Editor in the newspaper/ magazine paradigm?
I think blogs go even beyond letters to the editor. Not only do they give viewers a chance to express themselves to a story, they create a process of constant engagement between journalist and viewer. And that's what we want to intensify at CNN-IBN.