Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CNN - The Hunt for Relevancy

I can remember when CNN first hit the airwaves. While we didn't have cable until a few years ago, there were enough opportunities to tune in. If something really happened, you sought it out.

Ted Turner, never a shy or humble guy, had a vision.  He wanted to create on TV what many large cities had on the radio,  news 24 / 7. Everyone laughed but he prevailed and for many years CNN was the place to turn to for the news. Dictators too! It was said that Saddam Hussein watched Bagdad being bombed on CNN. There's the rub, if there was important news, it was the place to watch; that isn't true anymore.

I guess the new owners felt that the "design" that made CNN so successful, actual reporters actually reporting the news, needed to be changed. It slowly went from talking news reports, to talking heads and their opinions. Lets be serious. There is very little news on CNN anymore. They have gone from the Cable News Network to the Commercial News Network. Or another-wards, "Every Ad you never wanted to see...again and again and again." And what news there is is with reporters with their own clear agenda telling the people they are interviewing what they think. Truth seems to be irrelevant. You might get more interesting reports on KNBC 2 in Los Angles who at least do investigative reporting. Walter Cronkite where are you when we need you most?

Today, trying to see the tragedy in Moore, OK, I began to time the frequency of ads they were so frequent and many. There was almost an equal number of minutes for ads as there were minutes of news. NO ad cycle was more than 5 minutes away from the next batch.

CNN has been losing ratings lately and I think I read has been overtaken by Fox News. Isn't that a pip? Fox? The reincarnation of the movie "Network?" To shore up the ratings CNN hires as an interviewer Piers Morgan who oversaw the scandal of the Daily News in London as publisher of one of the most egregious invasions of modern life, literally stealing phone records for news. Kinda smacks of the revelations lately of the IRS targeting groups they don't like. They have failed to see that we want to see the news, not their version of the news or reports on things that are not news at all.

News does not have to be all bad, in fact we hope it isn't. Yet, at the same time there are real issues and problems around the globe that need to see the light of day, to be exposed. However, just like the rubber neckers on the freeway slowing down to scope out an accident, we are all curious about the tragedies that surround us and seek to understand what happened and why.

While news doesn't come free, well it does, the gathering of it for us doesn't. As papers, TV, magazines, and now cable, search for relevancy daily competing against the inevitable triumph of the Internet, there will be a marriage of the two. News is news. How it is reported and recorded, shared and covered is not dependent on the media used, but finding a way it will be told (and sold) that is relevant. I think taking Marshall McLuhan's message a bit further, the Message IS the Media. And while it certainly pays the bills, a commercial is not the news unless you make it so. The relevancy then is to find a balance between gathering the news and paying for its deliverance. Maybe fewer ads at a greater cost? Now there's an ideas whose time has come!

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