updated 6/19/2007 4:03:24 PM ET 2007-06-19T20:03:24

CNN plans to go beyond reporting the news by directing its viewers to charity and relief efforts involved in some of their stories.

Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami proved to CNN that viewers want to respond to the news, Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president, said Tuesday. The “Impact Your World” initiative begins on Wednesday to coincide with World Refugee Day.

CNN is setting up a special Web site with contact information for charities in categories like refugees and homelessness, poverty, natural disasters and homelessness. Viewers will be told about this site when CNN does relevant stories.

“It just seemed to make a lot of sense,” Walton said. “We’ve been aggressively working in these areas.”

Earlier this year, CNN auctioned off a Hummer it had used in war coverage to benefit a charity that builds homes for people injured in war. Its ongoing “CNN Heroes” series spotlights people who have gotten involved in helping others.

There’s precedent for such efforts. Newspapers occasionally run sidebars directing readers to charities or help efforts to collect money for the needy during the holidays.

While the plan could help CNN, one expert in journalism ethics warned there are pitfalls if it is not handled properly.

“It could be a way to connect with your readers, users and viewers,” said Aly Colon, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute. “It really depends on what kind of a presence the news organization wants to project to the people who follow it.”

But CNN must be careful where it sends viewers. If a charity doesn’t do what it is promising or does advocacy work on controversial issues, a de facto endorsement from CNN could be damaging, Colon said.

CNN is working with the Web site Charitynavigator.com, which rates charities for effectiveness, to make sure that it is sending viewers to effective organizations and is not playing favorites.

“We want to be as agnostic as possible,” Walton said.

He said the project was the brainstorm of Tonja Brown, a CNN employee who worked in marketing. CNN is a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., owned by Time Warner Co.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments