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CNNMoney’s War Room

CNNMoney’s war room, which was put together in December, was the topic of a piece in Variety by Todd Spangler.

He reports CNN’s Politics office in DC is next on the list to get a “bunch of giant screens.”

Welcome to the business news site’s digital war room. Erected in December, it comprises two 84-inch LG 4K monitors that flash second-by-second metrics and data visualizations from about a dozen Internet and social-media tracking services. Above those screens are five 32-inch TVs, tuned to CNN and other nets.

It’s not an actual room. Rather, in a bullpen in front of the 10-foot-wide video bank, a dedicated team of 10 multiplatform producers and analysts sit parked in two rows, glancing up constantly at the streams of data.

CNN prexy Jeff Zucker is a fan of the concept, swinging by several times daily to see what’s trending, staffers say. In fact, the group’s social-media producer has affixed two rearview mirrors on her monitor to detect when Zucker is peering over her shoulder.

CNNMoney’s war room effort appears to already have reversed a slide in audience. Effective June 1, 2014, Turner Broadcasting terminated its 14-year joint venture for the website with Time Inc., shifting full control to CNN. As a result, CNNMoney’s unique monthly users fell precipitously, from 18.0 million in January 2014 to 12.4 million last June, per comScore. That was in part because the site lost about 10% of its traffic from Fortune, which remained with Time Inc. This January, however, CNNMoney bounced back up to 20.2 million uniques.

Old-school journalists may balk at such a data-driven approach to news, says Andrew Morse, g.m. of CNN Digital, who also oversees CNN’s U.S. newsgathering operations. But, he adds, “To me, it’s about getting effective reach for your stories.”

For CNN, digital properties like CNNMoney are an increasingly important piece of the 35-year-old cable news network’s business. CNNMoney pulled in roughly $50 million last year, extrapolating from Time Inc. financial disclosures associated with its spinoff from Time Warner. That’s a fraction of the coin CNN collects from its TV biz: Total overall revenue was $1.1 billion in 2014, according to SNL Kagan estimates. But the network is trying to steer the ship toward digital as ratings continue their descent, and as more consumers turn to the Internet first for news.

You can read the full piece at Variety.


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