Soledad O’Brien Aims to Elevate Storytelling With Google Partnership

By Jordan Chariton 

SO HS 304Former CNN “Starting Point” anchor Soledad O’Brien is still busy reporting and contributing documentaries for CNN and Al Jazeera America, but a new partnership between her production group and Google has her hoping for expanded storytelling—and conversation.

Google and O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group’s partnership includes Google+ Hangouts, Google apps for Business, and a YouTube channel. It kicks off today in a five city “Soledad O’Brien Presents Black in America” speaking tour.

“Bringing content on the road allows you to take those conversations to different communities and then bring everyone back around online,” O’Brien told Lost Remote in an interview Friday.

Over the last few years anchoring—and now as CEO of Starfish—O’Brien learned how important multi-platform journalism is: “A conversation around ‘Black in America’ was happening on television, but the bulk of the people watching were then communicating with each other on social media,” she said.

With Google, she aims to create a social media feedback loop: her Hangouts interviewing guests will offer Google+ audience members the opportunity to ask questions and comments using hashtag #IAmTheConversation.

O’Brien’s reporting has largely focused on underreported stories spotlighting groups whose voices have gone unheard.

“I certainly believe one of the reasons you see blacks and Latinos over index in social media is correlated to that,” she notes, highlighting how social media engagement allows them to own their voice and create and broadcast content to everyone.

And her keenness for leveraging social media also dictates her morning, where she opts for Twitter over her former TV news platform.

“I hop on Twitter first thing when I wake up,” she tells us, finding the list of stories coming from people she follows (love or hate) helpful in providing content she probably wouldn’t have found herself.

O’Brien’s partnership with Google continues a growing trend of high profile TV news personalities crossing over to digital—Katie Couric recently joined Yahoo! News as Global Anchor with newscasts broadcasting online.

We’ll keep an eye on news and results of O’Brien’s—and other TV news figures leveraging of digital storytelling—as it progresses.