From Peabody to Webby, CNN Cleaned Up Awards This Week Like No Other Cable Outlet
After winning both a Peabody and a Webby award, CNN is having a big week.
The Webby was given to CNN’s Election Night coverage in the category of “Social Event.” The Peabody was given to them for all three of the pieces of coverage they submitted: “ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” “Undercover in Syria,” and, “Battle for Mosul.” Those three works were combined into one award.
What’s notable here is that CNN is a cable news channel. CBS’s Evening News won a Peabody, too, which is laudable, but CNN’s big wins fly in the face of the idea that real journalism is reserved for the network channels (and foreign outfits) while cable news has been reduced to simply churning out “infotainment” on 24 hours a day. But CNN is getting recognition for operating across multiple platforms to bring stories to consumers and meet them wherever they’re at.
Deborah Rayner, CNN’s Senior Vice President of International Newsgathering, is especially pleased to see that her company’s journalism is getting the honors it deserves.
“In each [report], they are the result of months of extensive and really detailed planning. They reflect the immense expertise that we have in the network from reporters to producers to camera operators to engineers to editors to writers to managers,” she explained of the three pieces of coverage that were honored with the Peabody. “Many of our peer organizations have struggled with how to tell these stories effectively and get to the most dangerous and volatile locations.”
She added that what her team has been able to do in the Middle East is the “ultimate test” of journalistic prowess.
— Ed O’Keefe (@nowthised) April 25, 2017
Like Rayner is with the Peabody, CNN’s Executive Producer for Social and Emerging Media, Samantha Barry, is celebrating the Webby win by making sure that she shares responsibility for it with everyone.
“It’s not a social win. It’s a CNN win,” she told Mediaite definitively. “It is a win for everybody that created content, from the team on the #MyVote bus to producers and [associate producers] back at base pushing out alerts and updating Facebook to the team at the Empire State Building doing Facebook live. It was such a big CNN win because we were all in on the election cycle and all in on Election Night. It was such a coordinated effort. It was a big, big night on every platform.”
She mentioned that in the 18 months leading up to Election Night, CNN worked hard to explore new ways to deliver election news to everyone who might want it. From young generations using Kik Messenger to people in other countries who wanted to chat with someone about what was going on in American politics, CNN found a way to make it happen, which is why they won for best “social event” of the year. Back in September, Mediaite even toured the #MyVote camper that Barry mentioned and saw the projection technology they were using to interact with voters across the country.
Rayner and Barry are both enthusiastic about their wins, but are looking forward to the future, too.
“Often you don’t stop and smell roses,” mused Rayner moments before launching into a description of the work her reporting team is doing right now for an upcoming look at the offensive to retake Raqqa.
“It’s even more complex and dangerous [because it] involves border crossing,” she enthused. “There are multiple factions and armies and checkpoints and multiple dangers and risks to assess.”
Obviously, it’s possible to smell the roses and keep on working at the same time. Why not? Rayner admitted that she had even anticipated some sort of recognition when the original reports were being made. She could tell then that all of their planning was worth it because they were creating truly compelling and thorough pieces of journalism on the ground in the Middle East.
Barry, on the other hand, said she didn’t realize just how extensive their work had been until she stepped back and looked at 18 months of work while getting ready to submit application materials to the Webby Awards.
“We were just doing our job,” she said. “In the lead-up to Election Night, our main concern and emphasis were, ‘How do we serve our audiences? How do we make sure no matter where you live or consume news, CNN is place you get results and analysis in real time?'”
As the awards show, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting news on TV or from Kik or if you want to know about American politics or the Syrian civil war because there are teams working constantly at CNN to make sure you have access to the information you want.
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