Not every news site on the Web has over 60 staff. Not every news site on the Web is backed by a worldwide TV news service. But then not every news site on the Web is CNN Interactive.
Scott Woelfel, editor-in-chief of CNN Interactive, was in London recently to share his insights in an exclusive interview with Internet World. When asked if the service is making a profit, he said: "We have broken even since the beginning and are making a small profit now, but don't believe anyone who says they are really making money, it's just not possible yet."
Woelfel says the business model has changed over the years, that CNN is less concerned with only banner advertising and is looking at micropayments, subscriptions and online shopping as well. A link to The Internet Travel Network is its first foray into the latter sector.
He has a list of dos and don'ts for any upstart Web site. Don't stray from your core business: "If you're in news, don't try to develop software." Don't do long-term deals: "The technology will move on and you'll want to do short-term deals." Do be flexible: "The watchword is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility."
Woelfel was also in town to promote CNN's personalised news service, CNN Custom News, which is a result of close ties with Oracle. Oracle software allows the construction of personalised pages, text analysis and retrieval. The service will compete with MSNBC's Personal FrontPage and Individual's NewsPage. Individual says it delivers customised news to 560,000 users daily.
CNN Interactive, which receives 1,000 emails a day, is confident it can top and better such competition, says Woelfel.
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