CNN has launched a year-long, single-topic news show on Facebook Watch called 'Go There', featuring mobile-first content created exclusively for the platform.
Funded by Facebook, the show aims to dive into the cultural, political and economic challenges happening in the US and overseas.
Three weeks in, the show explored a wide range of topics and formats, from live streams on shootings in El Paso, Texas, to packaged reports and interviews on Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.
Ashley Codianni, executive producer, social and emerging media, CNN Worldwide, said that reporters will keep one eye on the news cycle but episodes are also determined by global beats they know their audiences want to see.
"Climate change is a huge interest area for our audience, as well as immigration, race and inequality, and then breaking news," said Codianni.
"Our brand is synonymous with breaking news and any time we can go live and bring audiences live to a scene like we did in El Paso, that is something we know our audiences are craving."
While the show will help to determine which other topics CNN viewers are interested in, it is also seen as a way of bringing their correspondents closer to their audience.
A distinct vlogging and docu-style format is consistent between the different styles and reporters even shoot selfie-style piece-to-cameras from their cars. Codianni said it draws inspiration from the engagement they have seen with their Instagram presence.
"Bringing an international correspondent to a part of the world that a lot of audiences may never get to go to brings a connection and an ease, quite honestly, through a phone," Codianni said.
"This generation of news consumers are consuming large parts of their news on mobile, in vertical or square format.
"The more that we can experiment with that and see how it resonates when we bring our reporters into the worlds and feeds of our audience in a new and significant way, the better."
The episodes have had early traction. One video on raising children from prison had nearly 10m views but Codianni said views are not everything.
"When we are posting native content to platforms, we want to be making sure that content matches what audiences want and matches how they experience content," she explained.
"In tandem, is our audience learning something? Are they relating to it in a way that is so significant that they take an action on that content? That's a like, comment or share. That’s what we measure. Yes, total views are good, but what did our audience get out of that content?"
Cullen Daly, executive producer, digital productions, adds that having Facebook fund this experiment allows them to test whether small production tweaks like load bars at the top of the screen could be incorporated more widely, without compromising their editorial output.
"It allows us to hone in and nail our production style," said Daly.
"There are little nuances that we are playing with to see how our audiences respond as we premiere these videos. They are keeping audiences around for a longer period of time."
But ultimately, the number one goal is to gauge what audiences want to see and what role native content could play in the long-term.
"We've learned that global mobile-first content is really resonating with audiences and we are making sure that when our correspondents are on the ground, they are giving an authentic and broad view of what they are seeing and having that very direct conversation with our audiences," concluded Daly.
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