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From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

Ferguson under fire: CNN Social Report

Entered in News

About this entry

Ferguson had been a trending topic across the U.S. and internationally for months following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. CNN covered the events in Ferguson across social media for the days and months leading up to the biggest breaking news of the story – the night of November 24, 2014.

As a multi-platform organization, CNN had hours of breaking news coverage on TV, and plenty of stories on But Ferguson was a truly social story. That night the audience across the world wanted breaking news as it happened from the ground, and we delivered it to millions across Vine, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. On Twitter, CNN's posts appeared in more than 1 million timelines. Vines were looped more than 1 million times. And on Facebook, CNN's videos received millions of view. CNN also trended on Facebook and Twitter, which was a sign of where people were getting their information.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

It was clear from the beginning that the events in Ferguson had an impact beyond the Missouri border. The night the grand jury made the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, CNN was prepared to cover whatever unfolded with a social-first mindset.

Using social media, we provided context about race relations in America, showed the scope of the impact in the community and around the world and delivered the most up-to-date information in a timely, accurate and non-biased way.

The social team was involved in the coverage plans from the beginning, which proved to be the key to success that night. The network knew they could rely on the social team to gather news reports and publish verified content on every platform. A member of the social team was embedded with reporters looking at court documents to ensure information went out in a timely manner. A graphic designer was also on hand to deliver the latest information in an easy-to-consume social way. We also worked closely with digital producers who identified moments happening live on TV.

The result was a mix of content produced in real time across six different social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Google Plus and LinkedIn. We kept each social network updated with the latest information through a mix of video, text and images. We brought the story to the audience by sharing what our cameras captured from the scenes around the world. Here are a few of the posts from the night of November 24:

-News of the decision on Twitter reached more than 1 million timelines and received more than 10,000 total retweets, favorites and replies on Twitter.

- On Facebook, the breaking news post received 78,000 likes, comments and shares and reached nearly 5 million people.

- The night of the breaking news, the video of CNN'sChris Cuomo reporting on tear gas received 1,021,068 video views and a reach of more than 4 million timelines:

- The first photos of Officer Wilson's injuries reached more than 7 million people:

#CNN also trended on Facebook and Twitter that night.

Stats from the posts following the night's coverage were equally substantial, with reach and engagement remaining high through the end of the year. We continued reporting from Ferguson through December as the rebuilding process continued. Correspondents shared images on social accounts, which were then amplified with the help of our larger flagship accounts. We weren't simply repackaging digital content for a social audience. Some of this content was exclusive to the social realm, creating a different and unique way for our audience to connect with the story long after the initial breaking news event.

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