Three Questions: How a Network Stays True to Its Mission in the Digital Era
Expert: Richard Weinstein, C-SPAN Vice President, Digital Media
C-SPAN’s Richard Weinstein gives the lowdown on how the network has adapted to the evolving marketplace while continuing to provide audiences with its staple product—which is uninterrupted and uneditorialized coverage of all facets of the U.S. political process.
What makes C-SPAN stand apart as a network?
In this era of social media and instantaneous public commentary, giving people the chance to see what's going on in our government without filters is more critical than ever. We are still driven by the same mission we had when C-SPAN launched in 1979—to provide our audience access to complete coverage of government proceedings without editing, commentary or analysis—let people make their own decisions. That straightforward principle continues to influence all aspects of our network, helping C-SPAN remain relevant at a time when people have so many different choices where and how they get their news.
Since we're not driven by ratings, we have the luxury of taking the time to focus on what it is like to be in a hearing room or the Rose Garden or outside a Congressional members-only briefing before and after the 'official' event.
In what ways has C-SPAN evolved with the digital landscape, yet stayed true to its founding mission?
People sometimes joke about C-SPAN being boring (we love the late-night parodies), but as the way people consume content has changed, so have we—we do own more than two cameras!
Along with many of my C-SPAN colleagues, we are working hard to adhere to our mission of giving the public unfiltered access while innovating and adapting to new and emerging platforms, and consumer trends. As news consumption evolves, people follow Washington and national politics via different methods—whether that be traditional television, websites, social platforms, on mobile devices, apps or smart devices.
What might audiences expect to see from C-SPAN in the next couple of years?
We will continue to adapt to the changing media marketplace and monitor how audiences are consuming news and information—always mindful of our mission and unique, industry-supported business model. Ingrained in each of us at C-SPAN is a commitment to our mission reinforcing the ongoing support the cable industry and our Board of Directors has given us since 1979. C-SPAN simply would not exist without that support.
We will continue to grow, enhance and leverage the C-SPAN Video Library, looking for new platforms and partnerships with our affiliates to share this trove of content. We are looking at everything from smaller cameras to virtual reality as methods to bring people new ways of seeing our programming. So, whether it's a 360 VR view of a historic location around D.C. or expanding our public affairs coverage, we will continue to look at ways we might provide our audience more options.