CNN reportedly has a plan to emulate FOX in digital media so it doesn’t get trounced there too

If you can’t beat them, join them.

Or at least, in the case of CNN, try to copy what successful rival Fox News Channel is doing.

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CNN can’t deny the numbers and Fox News has the network beat on the air quarter after quarter. But in an effort to keep their strong digital presence online, CNN has decided to take a cue from the competition.

The network has reportedly launched a plan to hold on to digital ground, directing employees to note Fox News stories that it may have missed online.

According to a report by the Daily Beast:

In recent months, CNN’s newly revamped audience development team has begun highlighting the top daily stories people are searching for online in a widely seen company Slack messaging channel. The network has begun placing small fox emojis next to stories the right-leaning cable outlet covered online that CNN missed.

 

Apparently only Fox News has been given the extra scrutiny, indicating that top brass at CNN wants the network to keep an eye on – and occasionally mimic – their rival. The flagged stories included what was described as tabloid pieces that weren’t considered newsworthy by the network as well as “viral stories meant to outrage the site’s conservative readership,” according to the Daily Beast.

CNN touted its position as “the #1 digital news outlet” for May 2019 in a press release last month.

“CNN surpassed every competitor in audience size for May 2019 with 127 million unique multiplatform visitors domestically, 28 million more unique visitors than the nearest competitor Fox News. May 2019 also marked CNN’s 24th month in a row – or two years – of an audience of more than 100 million unique visitors,” the network announced.

“Heading into the 2020 Democratic Debates, CNN remains the #1 online political news destination for 4 years running with 43 million multiplatform unique visitors, 37 million mobile unique visitors and 67 million desktop video starts,” CNN added, noting that competitor Fox News Politics had 21 million unique visitors.

Fox News countered CNN’s claims that it trails the network, citing its lead in total user minutes spent online on its  website as well as the heavy use of its mobile app.

With its claim of being the “number one social news outlet in the US for more than four years,” CNN is focused on maintaining that position and making sure Fox News does not eclipse their digital reach as it has on television.

WarnerMedia Chief Executive John Stankey reportedly did not think CNN’s digital operation was living up to its potential, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year.  He pressed for more focused attention  on audience development and data analytics, leading to the addition of a new chief technology officer and a more intentional drive to use data to increase online traffic.

CNN’s monitoring of top stories from competitors like Fox News and The New York Times is part of what networks regularly do, according to CNN spokesperson Matt Dornic.

“Fox News has begun touting a digital growth story while publicly and aggressively targeting CNN so naturally we’re reviewing their editorial focus to assess what might be generating increased interest in their site,” he told the Daily Beast.

Dornic claimed that the online traffic generated by Fox News is generally connected to its on-air television coverage, contending that the network does not focus on hard-news reporting to the level that CNN does.

“What we’ve determined is an alarming strategy I call the ‘the daily bikini,’” he said, pointing to the past year in which he claimed Fox News has posted nearly 90 stories that feature women in bathing suits. Fox News refuted the claim, pointing out that less than one percent of their annual digital content is made up of women-in-bikinis stories, according to the Daily Beast.

Dornic attacked the Washington Examiner via Twitter after its coverage of the Daily Beast report, claiming its headline was “absolute garbage and inaccurate.”

“The Examiner headline on your piece is wholly inaccurate. We would never suggest any real journalist take cues from Fox News,” Dornic told the Washington Examiner in an email.

Viewers already critical of CNN’s supposed “news”coverage and biased reporting reacted to the latest report on the network flagging Fox News stories.

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