The last two years have seen heady days – a sometimes-toxic political climate, on the one hand, and a growing trend in advertisers shunning that news, on the other.

Some ad buyers buyers even blacklisted news sites, prompting one publisher to accuse them of censorship and others like BBC NewsNews Corp and The Economist to protest that bad news can be good news for marketers.

The latest to do so is CNN, which – given the president’s own news agenda – is often dragged in to the political mire itself.

But, in this video interview with Beet.TV, Andrew Morse, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CNN Digital Worldwide, says current affairs has never been a better way to engage an audience.

“(Some marketers) worry, if they delve into politics, they’re going to alienate half your audience,” Morse says. “That’s not necessarily the right lens to look at things.

“People are desperate for news, for information, for truth. I’ve never experienced a time like this, truly, in my whole career, whether you’re at a dinner party or at a business meeting or you’re on a plane, you’re on a train, everybody wants to talk about what’s going on in the world.”

There is plenty of bad news out there in the world. But news executives like Morse counter that an audience which can not just withstand reality but seeks it out in a bid to understand the world is actually a valuable one.

Turning the Tables on Social Networks with In-House Innovation

As CNN looks to profit from that appetite, it is on the same journey along with many other news organizations, figuring out how to build its own audience whilst also leveraging the big social networks.

“We spent years working with the platforms … We’re now turning the tables a little bit,” Morse says.

“We’re experimenting with them and, when we decide to do a product experiment with a platform, the goal is to try to figure out, ‘Is this a way that we can harness and engage audiences on our own platforms?'”

CNN’s own-platform growth will involve investing in data science, technology development and product development to deliver in new ways.

Under its parent Turner’s ownership by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Morse says the company needs to build a content recommendation engine that better understands consumption.

Barely a week goes by without the news network becoming the target of a presidential critique. But Morse says the imperative is to play it straight.

“We’re not in the game of playing left or right, that’s really not what we’re there to do,” he says.

This video is part of a Beet.TV series exploring the dynamic news landscape and opportunities for marketers.  The series is sponsored by CNN.  For more from the series, please visit this page.

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