CNN's ratings-led switch to bad tabloid TV

As the world burns—massacres in Egypt, civil war in Syria, a train disaster in Canada—CNN occupies itself with inane human interest fluff and wall-to-wall trial coverage delivered by the migrainous Nancy Grace. Thing is, it’s a ratings hit. Jay Rosen says he used to criticize CNN because he cares, but no longer cares at all.… READ THE REST

I gave up on CNN years ago, ever since Britney Spears was their lead story. These days, with a breaking story, I’ll hear about it from a few sources on Twitter, drill down to a local news source covering the information, and then do some research on my own about the situation before the Cable “News” Network can even bother to flash an alert. Other than that, I’ll go to someone like the BBC, NHK, or even Al Jazeera for coverage.


CNN has been TLC’d.


Just spent a week in Canada. Canadians watching CNN’s Trayvon Martin case for 9 hours a day. The sheeple continue past our borders.

They’re just doing what’s making them the most money. CNN might as well be called Capitalist News Network. This is always going to be a problem with for profit enterprises, when the best thing is not also the most profitable thing, you end up with something other than the best.

Investigative Journalism and coverage over overseas events is a lot more expensive than parking a crew in Florida to cover a court case for hundreds of hours, and the court case brings in more viewers. At least these days we have an alternative with the Internet and aren’t forced to choose between a turd sandwich and a giant douche like the old days were your only options were which horrible local rag to subscribe to if you were in one of the three places in the country that had a good local paper.

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What’s the difference between CNN and HLN these days? I caught it in the barber shop yesterday and it was like Casey Anthony all over again, ostensibly a slow news day where the other 7 billion of us are concerned (not to trivialize the Martin case, but continuous coverage?).

I’m glad to hear it. Perhaps they can play to their strengths and stop pretending they are a news organization.

I stopped watching all TV news a long time ago. The best way to get the truth is to read the news on the Internet from a variety of sources with a variety of view points. That is the power of RSS.


I was about to say our (admittedly much more muted) interest in Rob Ford of Toronto mirrors that, but then I remembered that Ford is an elected official. His crack smoking potentially affects a large number of people.

I use cnn to test if my internet is really down since their website has been accessible at times when others have issues, then i catch a glimpse of what they consider news and weep for the state of the world.

Almost as bad as CNN’s TV offering is their website. The majority of the links off of the main page lead to videos (reading is for suckers) and the headlines have gotten significantly dumb-ified. “Egypt pres Mohamed Morsi said what?!” Ugh.

So much for the idea that the marketplace produces better outcomes. When it comes to news (which should be boring and not sensational), capitalism is a poor and inefficient model which is driven by the need to generate eyeballs for profit, not serve the public interest. To do so, they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. That’s why the quality of reporting from non-profit organizations such as the BBC, NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, Real News, the Guardian and others are vastly superior (and yes, stultifyingly boring). True, some of them have problems of their own and the news consumer should always be aware that no source is entirely free of bias.


Ratings success” are the key words for me. If the switch to a more tabloid style of news has led to their ratings going up substantially, isn’t the public really at fault? Are the people not getting what they asked for?

To some extent, yes – but most people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. It is also possible to more cleverly blend the healthy stuff with a dash of the unhealthy, rather than delivering people a silver tray piled high with a giant tower of Ding-Dongs and Twinkies.

Although that does sound delicious now that I think about it.

I’d say that the marketplace, while efficient for some things, is not the appropriate model for news. The point of the marketplace is to deliver value to shareholders, not inform the public; it’s the wrong priority for the product. Blame that on the public if you want, but that will never change anything or get us better news. People are people and no amount of preaching personal responsibility will ever change that. If it could, we would have solved most of our social problems thousands of years ago, because if there’s one resource the world has never been short of, it’s moral scolds.

Since Anderson Cooper came out, he’s gone from being a journalist to being CNN’s token gay icon. He used to report from disaster zones; now he tries on makeup with Kathy Griffin.

We’re the product. The better outcomes aren’t for us.

This explains so much.

Americans long ago revealed that they are not interested in anything BUT fluff. Certainly not facts, or things that require critical thinking. In fact, they actively reject those things in favor of whatever make them feel like they’re right.
“These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”