August 25th, 2011
02:22 PM ET

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." The impact of Steve Jobs on a CNN news team

Rarely is news of a CEO stepping down a worldwide trending, all-caps-making event. But it is when it's Steve Jobs.He led a company that transformed a vast array of businesses - personal computing, portable and online music, smarter mobile telephony and post-PC computing. He delivered a string of products that appealed to our emotions by focusing on the user experience and consumer happiness.

He even pioneered a retail experience that was shanzhai'd in China.

Anyone who's held an iPod has no doubt pressed a mental pause button today to consider an Apple without Steve Jobs. And yet, Steve Jobs has made an impact not only on consumers the world over, but producers as well - producers of business plans, even producers of one hour news bulletins.

In 2009, a colleague and I threw out a question. "If Steve Jobs produced a news show, what would it look like?"

Bizarre? Yes. Highly unlikely? Of course.

But that simple question got me and my producer, Ravi Hiranand, fired up about how the smart use of technology can give our viewers a better understanding of the world. We asked ourselves questions about design, usability, and user experience.  We approached technology as an enabler that would never overshadow or obscure the news.

As a news anchor, I started to think of myself as an interface. I merely take information from a variety of sources and deliver it to the viewer. But I would never "dictate the news" but rather guide the viewer by directing their attention to various elements.

The basic ethos here? If Steve Jobs was a TV news producer (or anchor), he would never use technology for technology's sake. He would use it to enhance and extend our storytelling.

All this eventually led us to News Stream, our show on CNN International where news and technology meet. Over the last year, I have talked much about Jobs' influence on CNN's News Stream both online and in person to various audiences. My admiration of “His Steveness” has even been animated by Taiwan's Next Media Animation.

To me and the News Stream team, Steve Jobs represents that high bar we constantly try to reach. In his 2005 Stanford commencement address, he closes with the advice, "Stay hungry, stay foolish."

Adopting those words, we stay hungry. We won't be satisfied with re-hashed updates. We consider a smarter, alternative approach to current events like:

- A single high-res photograph that symbolizes how quickly the Middle East and North Africa has changed since the Arab unrest first took hold in January.

- A color-coded system to categorize, and better understand, China's hacking culture.

- An outline of the 2010 Pakistan flood zone across a map of Europe to truly convey the scale of the disaster.

As for staying "foolish," we dare to take that silly risk... like ending a newscast with a salute to "Top Gun" on its 25th anniversary, much to the delight of our viewers and even Tom Cruise.

Earlier today, we spoke to Silicon Vally insider and Giga Om founder Om Malik for his thoughts and reaction to Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO.

Om said, "Steve is responsible for a whole generation of entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs for thinking a certain way. I think that is his true legacy. Not only did he make the customers very happy. His true legacy is that he makes a lot of us think differently about how we treat our customers and users. That is his profound legacy."

We couldn't agree more.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mário Silva

    This rapprochement between CUSTOMERS, communication strategies, and trends that should basically be attributed to evolution of Tech, is really important and it deserves all this attention on Steve Jobs.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  2. stevejobsinc

    I have been following the behaviour and misbehaviour of fellow adoptee, Steve Jobs, ever since I saw the film about him and Bill Gates – Pirates Of Silicon Valley. My blog, stevejobsinc.blogspot.com , follows his epic story since his trip to India. I don't own any of his product, I just find the guy intriguing.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:35 am | Reply
  3. Mário Silva

    The impact of Steve Jobs on a CNN news team it's "mother crystal" to a better performance in ICT. There is already strong evidence of this trend.

    August 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  4. danny blom

    According to a report from AFP, the French news agency, in Beijing today, the current issue of Newsweek on sale in Beijing at news kiosks and bookstores, has the AI WEI WEI essay ripped out of the magazine completely and that page is missing from all copies being sold in China. Courtesy

    of the Ministry of Truth in China. Sigh.

    September 3, 2011 at 4:46 am | Reply

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