CNN Now in “Horse Race” with Huffington Post and Daily Beast

By on 10/23/2009 2:09 PM @beet_tv

CNN.com has taken notice of the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast as "opinion destinations" and wants to be a "horse in that race," CNN.com General Manager KC Estenson told me last night, after the industry introduction of the revamped CNN.com site.  (transcript below)

At an after-event party at the Hudson, we sat down for this chat. 

He said that Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown, founder of the Daily Beast, had done "really nice things" with their sites. 

He said that CNN.com already has a stable of 100 contributors, both inside and outside CNN, and wants to build out the effort by surfacing them in a new page called CNN Opinion, which goes live on Monday as part of the site redesign.

He said he plans to add as many as 10 new contributors a month.

Videos Part of New Opinion Page

In addition to the text contributions, CNN.com will feature videos of the contributors — sometimes produced by the contributors and others produced by CNN.com.

Last night, CNN announced three new contributors, conservative commentator David Frum, actor John Leguizamo, and social media blogger Pete Cashmore. 

Below is  a photo of KC's presentation yesterday.

Andy Plesser, Executive Producer

Video Transcript

KC Estenson:  Well we really felt like we wanted a true opinion destination. You know this is something that others in the online space have done pretty well. You know, I think that both Tina and Arianna have done really nice things on their sites and we should have a horse in that race, right?  And I think that we have some incredible voices that we can share with the world and we have, we just haven't really showcased it and really pulled it together and said, "Let's make this a vibrant destination." So now at CNN.com in our opinion section you're going to get all this stuff every single week, almost every single day you're going to get new commentary from somebody you probably know and recognize. So it should be really great.

Andy Plesser:  How many experts, commentators, "opinionators," how many folks are on there now and where might that go in the next few months?

KC Estenson:
  We've had almost a hundred in the last year alone, so you can image that we'll continue on at that pace of something like, in the neighborhood, I don't know, ten or so a month.

Andy Plesser:  I'm sorry, ten or so new ones?

KC Estenson:
Yeah, probably ten or so new ones every month.  Many of them topical and based on the news of the day and some of them just about broad issues that we're all facing as a society. The other thing that I want to do is to start bringing more video into our commentary and shoot video packages to a company on the commentary that these people are going to do.

Andy Plesser:  Will they shoot them themselves or you guys are shooting that for them, or how does that work?

KC Estenson: 
Yeah, sometimes they'll shoot them themselves and sometimes we'll help them produce, it just depends.  Like David Frum, we will probably produce for him. With somebody like Peter Cashmore from Mashable, Pete, if he does video, will probably do it on his own and send it into us. It just sort of depends on the technical savvy of the person we're working with.

Kc.presentation

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