Klein: CNN’s Special Reports Encourage Staffers To “Think Big”

By Brian 

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Only on TVNewser: “Tonight, one small step for democracy, one giant leap for the people of Iraq,” the CNN announcer said at 7pm Sunday night, introducing another CNN Special Report. “Iraq Votes” was the latest in a series of two-hour primetime broadcasts featuring anchors Anderson Cooper and Paula Zahn. (In the last month, a similar format has been used for the tsunami, “Defending America,” and the inauguration.)

CNN president Jon Klein spearheaded the development of the occasional specials. He told TVNewser the format helps showcase CNN’s storytelling abilities.

“They work really well,” Klein said Sunday night. “They encourage our producers to think big — that is, to think in terms of devoting a lot of producers and correspondents and camerapeople to the story, knowing there’s plenty of room for all of them…It just creates a juggernaut of a program.”

Klein also said the reports enable the audience to “really become involved in the story.” Rather than programming two distinct hours at 7 and 8pm, the special reports highlights the size of CNN’s newsgathering effort And he said he has been “very encouraged at the nimbleness” of CNN’s staffers. “They never balk at the opportunity,” he said. “They throw themselves into it, and their work is outstanding.”

Klein said the special reports would continue (“when the opportunity arises, and the story dictates, we will not be shy about jumping into the breach with a special report”) but didn’t say if the format could become permanent. “we’re looking at all kind of programming possibilities, but it’s way too early to tell what would work best,” he concluded.