CNN.com, Ashton Kutcher Redefine “Breaking News”

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In February, I chided CNN.com for putting a large banner at the top of the site with the words “Live developing story.” The reason was that the “live,” “developing” “story” was a video replay of President Barack Obama’s press conference from the night before.

Now they are at it again. This was what CNN.com looked like late last night, notice the huge yellow banner, normally reserved for pirate attacks or, you know, important news:

That’s right, Aston Kutcher beat CNN to a million followers on Twitter. And CNN.com apparently thinks this is a huge deal. CNN also sent out a breaking news alert to its mobile users with the same important announcement.

I have been following the Twitter race as an observer, and while I think it is cute, and funny, and helps them both with self promotion, the huge yellow breaking news banner was too much.

99% of the people visiting CNN.com do not care about their Twitter race. I suspect most Twitter users do not care about their Twitter race. Simply put, the banner didn’t belong at the top of CNN.com. It was worthy of a single headline in the middle of the page, such as it has right now:

What is so maddening here is that CNN.com is one of the best news websites on the Internet, and every time they do something like this, or tag a replay of an Obama presser as “live and “developing,” they hurt their brand.

In February I said “This sort of banner serves a purpose for CNN.com, it drives visitors to its Live video player, and hopefully some will come back to use it in the future. However, they run the risk of “crying wolf” too many times. People will only be fooled by a rerun of an Obama presser so many times, how long before they just tune out the banner altogether?”

What I said then still applies.

(h/t Jamie McCarty for the CNN.com/Kutcher pic)

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