What’s behind the CNNMoney strategy with MoneyStream
Rich Barbieri is the executive editor of CNNMoney, one of the top business and financial news sites in the country.
Barbieri oversees digital news gathering for CNN’s worldwide coverage of brands, media, markets, economics, technology, and personal finance. Barbieri manages a team of more than 60 reporters and editors around the world across platforms. He also oversees CNN MoneyStream, the new personalized business news app.
Barbieri previously served as the managing editor at CNNMoney and joined CNN in September 2007. Earlier in his career, Barbieri worked for 15 years at American Lawyer Media as a reporter and editor covering law, business and government.
He spent the last five of those years as editor in chief of Legal Times in Washington. Barbieri also worked as New York news editor at the Associated Press and as managing editor of Crain’s New York Business.
He won an AP reporting award in 1992 for coverage of California’s first execution in decades, and his newsrooms have won more than 100 editorial and design awards from local and national journalism organizations.
Barbieri spoke with Talking Biz News by email about MoneyStream and his job. What follows is an edited transcript.
What is the impetus for MoneyStream at CNN?
CNN has never done anything like CNN MoneyStream. Innovation was its north star. We wanted to disrupt — our own ways of doing things and the marketplace. We locked a strike force of editors, developers, designers, product people in a room (only a slight exaggeration!) and told them to build a product for digital natives who grew up scrolling news feeds on their mobile devices.
The promise: Choose the companies, influencers and markets you’re obsessed with, and we’ll feed you the stories, videos and social posts about them. CNN MoneyStream was inspired by Bleacher Report. Our Turner colleagues at Bleacher Report have built an amazing product for sports fans. We wanted to do the same for people with the same kind of passions for business and money.
It launched about a year ago. How has it grown during that time?
We ripped the Band-Aid off by updating our old app with a completely new experience in October 2016. We’ve grown our daily and monthly active audience by 25 percent over the past six months thanks to a fresh redesign and a bunch of new features our audience was requesting.
How is the content different than what is on the CNNMoney website?
First, CNN MoneyStream curates the entire internet — CNNMoney, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, Instagram, Twitter, Medium, etc. We bring in the best stories no matter the source. We do a lot of news gathering and storytelling at CNN. But CNN MoneyStream recognizes that there’s a lot more out there that our customers need to know about, read and watch. And the CNN MoneyStream edit team filters out the noise.
Second, we have recently begun producing our own original content for CNN MoneyStream: short, interactive, mobile-friendly explainers, recaps and analysis.
What has been the most popular choices for content?
People eat up the utility and service content. They want to read the markets “scoreboard” to know who is up and who is down. They really like stories and videos that explain the money essentials in life. We have a bucket called Wallet that pulls that together.
What is the exclusive content typically like?
It’s really fast, timely, and easy to scan. It’s focused a lot on what’s happening now, but filtered and framed for the mobile generation.
How does MoneyStream fit into CNNMoney’s overall strategy?
Since CNNMoney’s conception in 2001 we have never been shy about experimenting. We have always combined journalism with technology. We are at a time when our linear networks are doing very well, but the Turner investment and confidence in CNN Digital is future-proofing the company.
Can you measure how many MoneyStream readers cross over to the website?
Better analytics is high up on the roadmap. We will be deploying a suite of new tools in the next few months to better understand what our readers and viewers want.
What changes are in store for CNNMoney in terms of content?
There is a lot more to come. Like every news publisher, we are doing more to follow and get ahead of our audience as it moves to mobile. We’ve found great success by picking our spots on where to go deep. And we program to an ever-growing number of platforms and channels. Please stay tuned.
You’ve been expanding the editorial staff in Asia. Why?
CNN is one of the most recognizable brands around the world. The global expansion of CNNMoney and CNN MoneyStream is relatively new. We now have journalists on the ground working elbow to elbow with general news CNN-ers in Hong Kong and Delhi, and we work closely with the CNN Beijing bureau.
Our international team sits in the middle of the very lively CNN London bureau, and we have a reporter in Dubai. We also have a very tight partnership with the CNN International team that produces hours of business shows daily. The entire international presentation of business is branded CNNMoney. Asia is a big, big piece of our international ambitions and a huge player in international business.
What been the most surprising thing about the job since you became executive editor on January?
Oh, jeez. Every journalist has been on a hamster wheel since January. Me too. I worked hard as managing editor and I’m working harder now. But what surprises me most is how much fun I have every day. Don’t get me wrong — our work is hard. But I get to come to a place every day and be with people who are smart and passionate about telling stories — some important, some entertaining. Our work feels necessary because it is necessary. I’m a lucky dog.