CNN, and all the other “News Networks” have a real identity problem. Are they really the serious news gatherers and disseminators they pretend to be? Or are they simply another form of entertainment?
To some, I guess the answer might be both. But to me, the answer is just one. And I will focus primarily on CNN. It’s all about money through entertainment. Period!
Money made from advertising revenue is based upon audience. Audience comes from programming. The best programming to reach the maximum audience is programming that titillates. And that’s CNN.
CNN is not after the educated, thinking individual. It’s only after the most amount of bodies it can get in front of the tube to be registered in the ratings; regardless of whom their viewers are demographically. After-all, it is assumed that people who watch the news networks must be better educated and in the higher income levels. Not true. Especially when referring to the audience of CNN.
So here’s the CNN formula. Dummy down the news. Make it into a soap opera. Get people with exaggerated differences to yell at each other in staged debates. And most of all: if it bleeds – it leads.
A perfect case in point is the DC area sniper shootings. This was indeed an important current story. But CNN ran it without taking a breath, as if it was the only story. And when they had nothing new to say, which was virtually always, they shifted their programming to ask their viewers, if the viewers thought that CNN was giving too much coverage to the story.
There is no shortage of real news happening throughout the USA and all around the world. But CNN isn’t interested in other stories, when they’ve got one that captures the imagination of the continent. Especially Ma and Pa Kettle.
From the time of the first shooting, to the time they caught the creeps responsible, was a span of about three weeks. And in that three week period, there were thirteen shootings, each one being a two minute story in itself. However; CNN worked, and reworked the story ad nauseam, regurgitating old coverage as if it was newly discovered and incredibly important headlines.
More than that, CNN added the studied air of “journalistic” self importance, as if a CNN reporter was as important as the story itself. All of which added to the drama.
The report on the snipers should have been as follows: “There are no new leads that we are aware of. And as soon as the authorities have additional information, we’ll be the first to bring it to you”. But that kind of reporting is not going to win an audience and sell advertising.
So, instead, CNN utilizes every trick in the ENTERTAINMENT book to keep the audience, either glued to their spot on the CNN frequency, or sure to be coming back. I particularly rile when CNN, or any of the other news media state: “We’ll be right back after these commercial messages; Stay With Us”. What does that mean, “Stay With Us”?
Shouldn’t CNN be more concerned with getting out the most important stories, in the most accurate way, instead of worrying where the viewer might be going? If the presentation of the news is pertinent, accurate and well delivered, why would the viewer leave to another news network?
When CNN, or any other news station says: Stay With Us, it shows two things. First: They don’t necessarily think the viewer is interested in staying with them. Second: They’re begging for audience.
When I did my radio show for about two and a half years, I never ever said: “Stay With Us, or anything like that. I wouldn’t beg for an audience under any circumstances. I figured that everyone would stay tuned because of the subject matter and the delivery. And if that wasn’t enough to keep them. Than I shouldn’t have been on the air.
CNN follows the titillating stories. And when one doesn’t really exist, no problem. CNN will create a sensational story from a story that under normal circumstances would otherwise be pretty mundane. Or better yet, CNN will “pack” with other news media, and run with a story that attracts a huge audience, even if it isn’t true. A perfect case in point was the non massacre at the West Bank town of Jenin.
CNN is a network that uses news stories as entertainment. Instead of absolutely stupid and moronic programming such as Survivor and Fear Factor, CNN finds their audience in news stories, which they can beat to death for the longest run possible.
This past few weeks, it was the DC sniper. Before that, it was Martha Stewart and the financial moguls. Before that, it was Iraq. And before that . . . well you get the idea.
Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zaun and company will now analyze to death the psyche of the DC killers. Their family backgrounds. Their school days. What they eat. And if they were properly potty trained. That is until the next sensational story comes their way.
Who knows. Maybe someone will be kind enough to CNN to create a single mass murder where CNN can once again titillate and regurgitate until the cows come home.
If you want access to REAL news; here is my suggestion:
1) Pick up a few newspapers with varying slants.
2) Watch the one hour, nightly supper time news shows, on the free entertainment networks.
3) Watch your local news.
4) If you want a huge variety of independent opinions, scan the Internet.
5) And if you want a satirically befitting view of the news. Watch Letterman and/or Leno.
Finding news in this fashion, is heads and shoulders beyond watching a brain dead news network that provides news as entertainment. Or is it entertainment as news?