How a News Network Builds a Loyal Following
Philippe Cayla has been Chairman and CEO of EuroNews since 2003. A graduate of the Ecole des Mines de Paris, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Cayla began his career as a civil servant in the Equipment, Industry and Foreign Trade Ministries and as a technical advisor to the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Michel Jobert. From 1985 to 1992, Cayla was the Sales and Finance Director, the Strategy Director and finally the Deputy Managing Director and Strategy Director for Matra-Marconi Space, Europe's largest spacecraft manufacturer and a provider of communications ground terminals, sub-systems for rocket launchers and supplies for the International Space Station. In 1993, Cayla joined Eutelsat, one of the world's leading providers of satellite infrastructure and telecommunications. Cayla began working in television directly in 2000, when he became Director of International Development at France Televisions. At EuroNews he succeeded Stewart Purvis. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/2/07
Question: Do European networks try to shock with news coverage?
Philippe Cayla: No, it's not at all what we intend for. Of course, we need not to be boring, but we don't want to be an entertainment channel, a news entertainment channel, as some others are. We try to keep our serious line, but nevertheless, we don't cover only political news and business news. We try to have a larger coverage of news, covering also culture and science, which is also very specific to EuroNews. You can find a number of programs on EuroNews. At all, we have 40 different programs, and a number of them cover cultural events in Europe, outside of Europe—be it exhibitions, theater, cinema releases, film releases, music, music events. And in the field of science also we have specific programs for the science at large, new developments of European science. Space, space industry, space adventure, which is very popular in the U.S. but also in Europe, high-tech in all its forms. So we try to offer the viewer a wide range of human activities, if you like, which aren't only the politics themselves, but which covers all aspects of human life.
Question: How do you deal with fatigue surrounding important news stories?
Philippe Cayla: It's always the problem when you manage a news television. It is a problem of the agenda or what is at the top of the agenda. Something like the spill – of course it should be at the top of the agenda in America, in Europe a little less, but it's changing every day. But when you are a 24-hour news channel, the viewer never stay more than 20-30 minutes, so every half an hour you have new viewers who haven't seen what has been broadcast before. So it's only an impediment for the ones who are watching for long hours the same news channel... but there are very few of them. Only professionals like you, maybe, or others. All the wise people who watch news channels watch it only for 20 minutes to half an hour, and the just get what they need to know.
Question: How can a modern news organization attract and retain a loyal following?
Philippe Cayla: Certainly to create a loyalty among the audience you need to respect some basic laws to be... basic laws of journalism; honesty, transparency. What is particular to EuroNews is a balance. We have a good balance between values and opinions. We are not an opinion channel; we don't give an opinion to the people, and when there is a conflict we always present both sides of the story. For instance, the Middle East I think, at least along the Western channels, we are very considerate because we don't take a particular side between Israel and the Arab world. We present both sides of the story, whatever events which recently occurred. For that we receive some messages of consideration, of respect. People like us because of this balance, which is I think particular to EuroNews. We don't represent necessarily... we don't represent a particular interest. We don't represent the West against the Middle East or the East... I would say we try to be as balanced as possible, and this is due to the fact that we are multinational and multicultural, and we don't have a national background—any particular national background.
Our team consists of 350 journalists, and they make the editorial line together. By mutual consent, they have to agree about what goes on the air, so of course it's this multiplicity of nationality neutralizes in some sense the editorial lines. You cannot have a strong line when you have so many people. We need to agree, to consent, on the editorial line.
Recorded June 22, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman
To create a loyal audience, a network needs to respect the basic laws of journalism, be honest, be transparent, and strike a good "balance between values and opinions."
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