NEW YORK (AFP) – CNN’s strategy for revival hinges on adding broader human interest news and getting people to use its digital platforms, the head of the news organization said Tuesday.
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said ratings for the all-news channel “are up quite dramatically” this year but added that “we still have a long way to go.”
Zucker, appearing at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, said CNN is among the most important news organizations worldwide despite having lost viewers to rivals.
“CNN remains one of the great brands in news and information in the world and the key is to make sure that CNN is essential to as many people as possible both here in the United States and around the world,” Zucker said.
“CNN has usually been essential in times of breaking news and people would use CNN a little bit like the spare tire in the trunk — you would take it out when you need it. The key for us is to be more essential more of the time.”
Zucker said this means “broadening the definition of what news is” beyond politics and disaster coverage.
CNN can draw more people, he said, by adding in more “business and sports and culture” in the mix of news, he noted. “We’re still all over Washington and Egypt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cover stories of human interest.”
Zucker began his job in January as head of the 23 news and information businesses including the CNN news channel, CNN International and CNN.com, part of the Time Warner conglomerate.
The former NBC Universal chief was named after CNN’s viewer ratings hit their lowest levels in two decades, behind Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Zucker said CNN is also working on a digital strategy to get people using CNN on as many kinds of devices as possible.
Digital is “the whole future of CNN,” he said.
“We’re not going to care what screen you are watching on as long as there is a CNN red logo,” he said. “To us, mobile is the most important part of our future but digital as a whole is where we are concentrating everything.”
He said CNN has named two new “digital correspondents” and has launched a joint YouTube channel with the BuzzFeed news site under this strategy.
“More people learned about the royal baby through our digital assets than will ever watch television, and that’s OK,” he said.