MSNBC Editor Looks To Post-War Success

Now that the war in Iraq has settled to a predictable conclusion, the question in newsrooms all across the country is: what's next?

At MSNBC.com the question is followed by a need to follow a less predictable conclusion. That conclusion is the one that placed it first among general news sources for the month of March. According to Nielsen//NetRatings data, MSNBC nosed out rival CNN by about one million unique users for March at 24.3 million.

"The question of 'what's next' is certainly the big question," said MSNBC.com editor Dean Wright. "The war provided a big boost in traffic for us, as did other major news events. So the challenge is to hang on to the users that you added during that period."

Wright believes that the reason MSNBC managed to win March lies in the increased support the site gets from co-parent NBC, as well as a commitment to broadband. Wright said MSNBC streamed 87 million feeds from Iraq. He also credits the viewership MSNBC gets at work, which is where he said the site spends "a great amount of resources."

"We have become a very distinct part of the NBC family and we are more closely enmeshed than ever before," Wright said. "That closer tie is one of the reasons I think that we spent resources to increase our usage at work, and our reach certainly went up there."

From a content perspective, the question "what's next" has a different tone. Not only does he need to hang on to those 24 million users, he needs to figure out what will keep those 24 million users interested in a post-war world.

"We have to make sure we boost our breaking news coverage," he said. "You'll see a lot more health coverage, a lot of technology coverage and a lot more entertainment coverage. Instead of presenting the viewer with a collection links, we want our cover page to illustrate the things that are important at that hour."