CNN’s Interview Club was a live Q&A product where a community of smart question askers would drive interviews with celebrities, expects, and newsmakers, conducted by CNN personalities. At launch, it was the only user-generated content offered on a CNN-owned platform.
It was seen as risky to open the brand up to community submissions in such a vulnerable way. As a founding member of the Interview Club team, I worked from ideation to execution and launch, guiding product priorities, authoring policy, staffing our team, and securing the needed buy-in from CNN’s legal and standards and practices teams. We built a world-class interaction team for a product that accepted live submissions and produced multiple live events per day.
Originally conceptualized as a standalone subscription product for CNN, part of the way through development, we learned that senior leaders have decided that Interview Club would become one of the key offerings of a new streaming service, CNN+.
Participants included Dr. Anthony Fauci, W. Kamau Bell, Lisa Ling, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Abby Phillip, Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Wolf Blitzer, Van Jones, Adrien Grenier, John King, Andrew McCabe, and Sara Sidner. In early reviews, Interview Club was the most widely-praised part CNN+.
“[Interview Club] is a nifty feature that adds a welcome sense of community when most big broadcast news channels feel detached from their audiences.” -Jordan Minor, PCMag
“Interview Club definitely is the sort of thing that keeps CNN+ from just being a news-centric streaming service.” -Phil Nickinson, DigitalTrends
Interview Club was such a standout that when the closure of CNN+ was announced, then CEO Chris Licht specifically mentioned that Interview Club would be one of the few parts of the service to survive. Unfortunately, that plan was eventually scrapped.