2016 Breaking News, Large Newsroom finalist

Paris Terrorist Attacks

CNN Digital


Breaking News, Large Newsroom


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CNN’s coverage of the Paris attacks showcases the diversity of digital journalism, ranging from compelling video to 360 video portrait. The memorial of the victims is powerful. A strong entry.

About the Project

On the evening of November 13, a number of orchestrated attacks began to play out in Paris: first a series of explosions outside Stade de France, a sports stadium in Saint-Denis, then a series of shootings outside restaurants and bars in the city, then an assault inside the Bataclan concert hall. The terror attack, which targeted six locations across the city, killed 130 people, wounded hundreds more and put Paris and the world on high alert.

CNN Digital alerted the initial news of the attacks, mere minutes after confirming the news to audiences across all of our platforms, including our more than 30 million Twitter followers. Between Twitter, app alerts, desktop and other platforms, we were able to inform millions of CNN followers within minutes of this brazen act of terror. Those alerts linked to a constantly updating news story and live blog that included CNN reporting, user-generated images and social media posts and video.

Our first urgents, app and email alerts went out at 4:06 p.m. ET and by 4:14 p.m. ET, we had a full story url out to our Digital audience, which we wrote and produced as a live blog to keep up with the real-time reporting from CNN staff on the scene. This allowed us to publish updates to this url within one minute of confirming new details. This is the final version of the November 13 main news piece:

Within a few hours of the attacks, our initial breaking news presentation included witness accounts, a timeline of events and beginnings of the context that could explain who carried out the attack and why.

One of our key missions was to tell the story of the victims. Over the initial hours and subsequent days of on the ground reporting and social media reporting, were able to produce a tribute to the lives lost on the terror-filled evening (

We also needed to help our readers understand what it must have been like to have an ordinary Friday evening brutally interrupted by terror and carnage. Using eyewitness accounts from CNN’s international reporting crew on the ground, we were able to recreate what happen that night from the point of view of the survivors (

The digital video team created a mobile-friendly timeline of the attack using footage from each scene across the city. Text and time codes helped the audience follow the sequence of events. ( They also focused on the Bataclan and told the horrifying story of what happened there using user-generated content from inside the theater of the moments shots rang out. (

In the days following an outpouring of grief and fear spread through the streets of the city. The network deployed a small team of producers to capture two distinct scenes: the impromptu memorials at Place de la République ( and the moments after French authorities conducted raids on a terrorist hideout in Saint Denis (

The videos were captured using a spherical rig of six GoPro cameras secured to a light stand. The goal was to allow audiences, around the planet, to witness a breaking news story first hand, by giving viewers the ability to see and experience events for themselves.

On Snapchat Discover, CNN is the trusted destination for breaking news on the platform. During Paris attacks, we built a special edition of 10 bespoke snaps that explained the timeline of events in a simple and digestible mobile-friendly format.

With sophisticated animation and design, we covered the initial breakdown of “what we know,” showed images of global landmarks throughout the world displaying support, information on the victims and Eagles of Death Metal, an animated map of where the attacks took place, testimonials from observers, safety and travel information and displays of solidarity throughout the world.

CNN’s commitment to breaking news lives beyond the traditions of television, mobile and legacy social media, extending to every platform, for every audience. This is proof.