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Friday, April 30, 2010

NYT reports Michael Ware back with CNN

This was just posted on the NYT blog ...

CNN Says It Supports Correspondent in War-Related Stress Case

Michael Ware has spent so much of the past nine years reporting from war zones for Time magazine and CNN that he’s still a citizen of Iraq.

That experience, he says, left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an interview on Thursday, he said that CNN wanted him back in the field before he felt he was ready and, as a result, he was under the impression that he had been released from his contract. “I required further time off than I think CNN was able to give,” he said.

But there may have been a misunderstanding. On Friday CNN said that Mr. Ware is still employed by the network, disputing an unsourced report on a blog that he was no longer working for the network and that P.T.S.D. was a reason.

“We will continue to support him during this time,” the cable news network said in a statement. The network said it is “rightly regarded as an industry leader” in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and that it offers support services to past and present employees.

Mr. Ware’s agent, Richard Liebner, said, “They are clearly standing with him now.”

In a telephone interview from Brisbane, Australia, where he currently lives, Mr. Ware said he first met with a company psychologist two years ago to talk about post-traumatic stress. But he continued to report from conflict zones. At news outlets like CNN, deployment to dangerous locations is always voluntary.

In an interview, Mr. Ware talked openly about how hard it can be to return from war to home, calling the homecoming “beyond harsh.”

“It’s a struggle to learn how to fit back in,” he said, “and yet, that’s precisely what’s expected of you — to fit back in.”

He said he started a three-month book leave in February. Before long his bosses were itching to get him back in the field. “They wanted me back straight away,” he said. He submitted a request for further unpaid leave, apparently without citing P.T.S.D. as a reason. When that request was denied, Mr. Ware said he believed he had been effectively unemployed. But his agent said the CNN bosses were not fully aware of his current condition.

CNN said in the statement Friday, “We hope that when he is ready and able he will be back doing what he does best.”

Mr. Ware has talked publicly about his post-traumatic stress (though not on CNN’s airwaves) and he said he would continue to do so. And he certainly doesn’t rule out a return to conflict in the future.

“I still miss war,” he said. 

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ratings For The Week Of April 19th

1 - Based on four nights of regular programming
2 - Based on three nights of regular programming

Rating calculations are weekly averages based on nightly ratings provided by TVNewser with data by Nielsen Media Research. Numbers reflect Live and same day (DVR) data.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Michael Ware leaves CNN

We won't be seeing any more of Michael on CNN...

In addition to having taken a break recently in order to work on his book, it is no secret that he has been grappling with PTSD, brought on from the hellish years he worked in Baghdad. I was told that, unfortunately, when he needed more time off in order to deal with things, his request was denied. So he will not be returning.

While it is a huge loss for us (and for CNN) I am extremely relieved that he chose to take care of his own needs first. And while I sincerely hope that he will return to US television someday on another network, it is far more important that he gets the care he needs.

His work for CNN over the past four years has been an astonishing and brutally honest look at the causes and results of war. Not easy subject matter to watch… but he made us care. His urgency and passion burst through our television sets and made us pay attention, made us want to understand.

Personally, I will never forget the first time I heard him, speaking with Anderson Cooper via telephone to discuss Saddam Hussein’s trial as well as an article he had just written about an embed he had been on in Ramadi. It wasn’t even five minutes of airtime, but it was riveting. When it was announced that he would be joining CNN, I was delighted, because it meant we would be getting even more insight from him. And that we did — he worked like a stevedore, appearing on CNN at all hours of the day and night to make sure that we knew what was really going on in Iraq. As a viewer, you could tell that it mattered to him that the American people understood the issues in this far-away war of ours. He didn’t give a damn about the politics; he cared about what the grunts were going through and what the innocent Iraqi citizens (whose blood, he had to keep reminding us, is no less valuable than ours) were suffering.

His work was always insightful and informative, and on the too-rare occasions when he was able to do longer-format programs for them, it was like being in a classroom. He knew the material cold and presented it in a way that made it easy to comprehend. He is far from the average buffed-and-polished pretty boy posing for the camera. He’s real. He’s a guy — sorry; a bloke — you’d want to sit down and have a beer with, to ask how he’s doing and how he copes with all the craziness he reports on. And want to ask more about what he knows, what he’s seen, what he’s witnessed … no matter how unpleasant the answers would be to hear.

And exactly how does a news organization justify (to themselves, even!) not giving their war correspondents whatever they need in order to deal with their wounds, whether they are visible ones or not? If ABC had treated Bob Woodruff so callously, there would have been hell to pay. I don’t doubt they wanted him back in the field ASAP — doubly so after losing Christiane Amanpour — but don’t force him to make a choice between getting better and getting paid. That just sucks. Surely it would be better to have him off the air but still yours once he is ready to come back than to have him off the air and someone else’s upon his return? So not only has CNN made a callous move here, they have made a stupid one, as well.

What a tremendous asset he has been to CNN. And how foolish they are to lose him. Especially when the ratings are plummeting and the number of columns about how quickly they are losing stature are multiplying. Although, truly, ratings should not enter into these decisions, and none of us really expect corporations to display a modicum of decency or fairness anymore… Still.

When I first heard the news, I was angry at their foolishness. Now, I’m just sad. They blew it. Their loss will be another network’s gain.

I will, of course, continue to keep track of whatever work he does -- his book or other writings, or if he makes appearances here or in Australia.

When I started my site, he was working for Time magazine. I was delighted when he transitioned to CNN, knowing that it meant we would get more of his remarkable work. And now there will be a new chapter in his career to look forward to ... but only after this brief intermission.

Thanks, Mick ... be well.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Your Views on the News April 23, 2010

Earlier this week published an article that Verne Gay wrote originally for Newsday. It offered specific suggestions for how CNN could tweak its schedule to boost ratings. Here's what Gay wrote:

Today, we solve CNN's problems. And they are big ones.

Prime-time viewership fell 39 percent in the first three months of this year, in one of the worst declines ever and during two huge news stories - Haiti's earthquake and the health-care bill debate. An average 690,000 tune in most weeknights, well below MSNBC and a third of the Fox News audience.

What to do? Without gutting the avowed charter (news, absent obvious opinion) or the anchor team, there are solutions. To the suggestion box!

1. Differentiate. From 7 to 11 p.m., this is the John / Campbell / Larry / Anderson Show. With the exception of "Larry King Live," one show runs into another, each fundamentally the same. There's no obvious reason why people should get The News with Anderson Cooper at 10 when they can get The News with John King at 7 or Campbell Brown at 8. Any show on TV, particularly prime time, has to hook viewers with something unique and different. (How to do this? See No. 4.)

2. Declutter! CNN is in love with information - the more the merrier, and all of it jammed onto the screen at the same time. Crawls ... breakout boxes ... split-screens ... multiple talking heads ... CNN is the Land of Too Much Info. Strip it down. Make it clean and simple.

3. Flip "Larry King Live" with "Anderson Cooper 360." ''AC360" should be the prime-time centerpiece at 9, not Larry's old soft-shoe Q&A, which would work better on the edges of late night.

4. Merge John King and Campbell Brown into one 8 p.m. broadcast. Have one anchor from the studio, the other out on the road - always. (Let them fight over who gets that job.) King's good, but his new "John King USA" feels redundant and talky; moreover, viewers often see only the anchor's hand as it lovingly caresses the "magic wall" in the studio. It's like watching a disembodied PowerPoint presentation.

5. Revive "Crossfire" at 7. CNN needs to get off its high horse and get back into the opinion game. That's what viewers are buying, so give it to them. (A big number at 7 would help the rest of the night, too.) Every news organization needs a forum for opinion - 7 is exactly the right place for it. ~Verne Gay

So what do you think?

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ratings For The Week Of April 12th

1 - Based on four nights of regular programming.

Rating calculations are weekly averages based on nightly ratings provided by TVNewser with data by Nielsen Media Research. Numbers reflect Live and same day (DVR) data.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Some Serious, Some Silly

I have to offer apologies for my tardiness with the material in this post but time seems to get away from me lately. When I first got an alert that John Roberts would be doing an interview with John Avalon at The Strand in NYC on March 15th I knew it would be interesting. I was encouraged to know that it would be posted on C-Span2 Book TV and planned on grabbing it to post here at ATC. Unfortunately C-Span2 thwarted my efforts with a video that isn't able to be copied, lifted or embedded. So I will post the link to C-Span2 site where the video is posted and strongly encourage you to watch the 54 minute talk that is packed with good information and also highlights John Roberts strong skills as an inteviewer.And while we are on the subject of John Roberts, he pulled a steller April Fool's (I told you I'm behind, didn't I?) joke on American Morning April 1st. He told Kiran Chetry, Christine Roamans and others on the AM set that he had been asked to be the ambassador to Canada. Here's a bit of the CNN transcript:

CHETRY: You know, I feel so much better than I did about 10 minutes ago, because our Christine Romans is here "Minding Your Business", and she fell for the same April Fools' joke which is John telling us that he's been called up to be the ambassador to Canada.

ROMANS: I really believed it.

CHETRY: And you and I both fell for it. No one else did.

ROMANS: John! Really? John!

CHETRY: Well, wait. My reaction was, oh my gosh, you know, it's such a big career move. Christine goes, am I going to have a connection then to these good parties?

ROMANS: That's true. I did say that. All right, well --

ROBERTS: And in your condition, too, (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: So, as you can see, I'm really -- I'm looking -- taking the long view. I'm looking around -- over the corner.

Look, we're talking about the -- the free credit reports as well.

ROBERTS: But wait, the (ph) ambassadorship to Canada is available.

ROMANS: You know -- and please tell us, is that -- that was a beautiful April Fools' joke. It was very well done, well executed. You get the -- you get the award for the best April Fools' of the year.

ROBERTS: It's the first one I've pulled in a decade, at least.

Later in the morning there was a great exchange about Robert's April Fool's prank between John, Kiran and Kyra when AM tossed to Newsroom.

Thanks to BA and Cyn for help with the material in this post. ~Phebe

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marrying Content and Commercials

CNN Marries Content and Commercials
Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age
TV viewers by now are accustomed to seeing product placement in their favorite shows. But how will they react upon seeing "program placement" in their commercials?
On John King's new early-evening news show on CNN, every commercial runs with a small window at the bottom of the screen offering a live view of the show's set. That's right -- the show, "John King, USA," in a sense continues into the commercials, with viewers able to see activity between producers and talent as well as a broader graphic offering news and tidbits from around the nation.
With marketers now paying for TV ad time based on the number of people watching commercials (rather than TV shows, as was once the norm) networks are working to diminish the sense viewers have long had that advertising interrupts their favorite programs. To keep people riveted, why not keep the show going alongside the ads?
"Networks and marketers continue to think about how the break from program to commercial back to program can be much more clouded, more obfuscated," said John Moore, exec VP-director of media services at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen agency. With DVRs allowing people to skip ads altogether, marketers appear ready -- shockingly -- to give up some of their screen time in hopes that TV show content will keep viewers from leaving. The challenge: "Thinking about what's in it for the consumer," he added.Not every program has content that readily works alongside commercials. So CNN is taking this step gingerly. "We aren't going to do this across the board in every daypart and every program. It's got to make sense," said Greg D'Alba, exec VP and chief operating officer of CNN advertising sales. He calls the insertion of content during "John King" ad breaks—the only regularly scheduled CNN program that has any sort of graphic element placed alongside commercials—a "test" that could be used elsewhere on the schedule if feedback is positive and similar content can be made to work with other programming.
Others have experimented with similar ideas. Interpublic's DraftFCB approached NBC about having a "split screen" during its now-canceled "Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m., so that viewers could see a commercial and also see what Mr. Leno and others were up to, according to a spokesman for the agency. The idea was scuttled after NBC ended the show. Mr. Moore's Mullen has talked with ESPN about having an advertiser's logo or the first few seconds of a commercial appear on a screen behind on-air personnel during a show, then letting the content on the screen gradually fill the TV view.
CNN's foray comes as the Time Warner cable-news network has been suffering from lackluster ratings during its weekday prime-time schedule. If the method is successful during "John King," which airs at 7 p.m., CNN could have a better crowd for its first prime-time program, "Campbell Brown," at 8 p.m. "If it creates a better viewership and higher ratings, I think that's great," said Mr. D'Alba.
The new on-air "window" has its roots in CNN coverage of live political events, said David Bohrman, CNN's senior VP-Washington bureau chief. With viewers tuning in for election coverage and results in 2006 and 2008, the network gave them information and updates during ads, he said, with "banner boards" at the bottom of the TV screen. "By the time we got to the inauguration, we had upgraded our technology and were able to put video in that little thing," he explained. With "John King" viewed as something of a political-coverage linchpin, offering similar information during commercials made sense.Other TV networks have found adding content to ad breaks helps viewership. At Walt Disney's ESPN, sports fans are regularly treated to sports news running in tickers at the bottom of the TV screen during ad breaks of programs with news content (games and long-form programs don't have tickers). Executives have found that viewers keep their eyes on the advertising 81% of the time, said Artie Bulgrin, ESPN's senior VP-research and analytics.
Stock-quote tickers are standard during ad breaks on NBC Universal's CNBC and News Corp.'s Fox Business Channel; viewers expect such stuff. At CNBC, "we feel it does help our advertisers, and we do see this as a way to retain viewership during commercial breaks," said Robert Foothorap, VP-global ad sales at CNBC.
MSNBC has in recent months added mini-segments during its "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and "The Rachel Maddow Show" to ad breaks, according to a spokesman for the network. The hosts may bring up a new topic in a 30-second or one-minute segment, and executives believe adding the content conditions viewers to stick around during commercials, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the extra screen time doesn't seem to be affecting the crew on CNN's "John King." Viewers can see a camera is trained on their activity -- moving chairs around, talking with the host -- but "by and large, the staff has completely forgotten that it's there," said Mr. Bohrman.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Catching Up With Wolf

Last Friday, April 9th, Wolf Blitzer was the guest at his alma mater, the University of Buffalo. The Spectrum, a campus publication, had the details of his day and the honor presented to him by the alumni association.

Blitzer reflects on time in Buffalo
By Caitlin Tremblay
Campus Editor

UB alumnus Wolf Blitzer returned to UB on Friday to accept a Distinguished Alumni award for his career advancements and continued service to the community.
With his fluffy white hair, piercing blue eyes and a beard so famous that it has its own Twitter account, it’s not surprising that the UB Alumni Association honored CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Friday.
Blitzer received UB’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his exceptional career accomplishments and service to the UB community. Blitzer was honored with a dinner and award ceremony in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on North Campus on Friday.
Blitzer was born in Augsburg, Germany in 1948 and raised in Buffalo. Blitzer spent his childhood in Kenmore and attended Kenmore West Senior High School. He visited his alma mater on Friday, speaking with current students about careers in journalism and media while posting his pride on his Twitter account: “Thrilled to be at Kenmore West Senior High School. I love this place. Remember: West is best; East is least.”
Blitzer received a bachelor’s degree in history from UB in 1970 and said the degree and courses helped him pursue a career as a journalist.
“When all is said and done, what is journalism? It’s a first draft of history,” Blitzer said. “So we write that draft and then others come along and polish it and revise it and make it better based on more information. The history education I received in Buffalo was fabulous.”
Blitzer continued to speak fondly about his time at UB – he attended the university in the midst of the Vietnam War, one of the most turbulent times in American history. This turmoil extended to UB’s campus.
“It was a really politically charged period, the anti-war movement. The Vietnam War was going on. I spent four years here, 1966-70, right in the middle of all the activity in Buffalo,” Blitzer said.
Blitzer also remembers the tension on campus felt by the male students, who were worried that once their student deferrals expired after graduation, they would be sent to Vietnam in the draft and perhaps never make it home to start their careers.
During Blitzer’s senior year, a draft lottery system was put into effect.
“They only needed about a third of those eligible. Your birthday was put into a lottery. If you had a high number, you were drafted; if you had a low number, you weren’t drafted. My number was very low, so I wasn’t drafted and I didn’t have to worry,” Blitzer said.
Blitzer finished out his degree without the threat of the Vietnam War looming ominously over his head, which allowed him to focus on his career and life after UB. He said that the university played an integral role in getting him where he is today.
Blitzer attributes much of his success to UB’s activist students and faculty. Despite not quite understanding the full impact that the anti-war movement had on the ’60s and ’70s, he said that the movement led to a certain inquisitiveness that eventually took him down his current, politically charged career path.
“It was a great experience, all in all. I can’t complain,” Blitzer said. “As I look back today on my career, those four years helped inspire me even though I didn’t appreciate or understand what was going on at the time. I think that it built up a curiosity factor in me and got me into this field.”
Blitzer is currently the host of “The Situation Room” on CNN and is CNN’s lead political anchor. He began his career in political media after receiving his master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. He was inspired to apply to the program by one of his Buffalo history professors, Clifton Yearley, who saw his potential.
After graduating, Blitzer landed a job with Reuters news agency in the Tel Aviv bureau and soon after became the Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Report, an English-language Israeli newspaper.
Blitzer spent much of his early career asking the tough questions about the state of Israel and its relations with other nations, including the U.S. and Egypt. He was the first person in news media to ask Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat about the tensions between Israel and Egypt. Some sources credit Blitzer with making the peace talks between the two countries possible.
According to Blitzer, his UB education taught him to ask those tough questions.
“[The classes at UB weren’t] just open your book and read it. The lectures were thrilling and knowledgeable,” Blitzer said. “I loved history and I still do. I think it’s one of the reasons I went into journalism.”
Blitzer moved to CNN in 1990, while many current UB students were still in diapers. From there he rose in the ranks from a military affairs reporter to a White House correspondent, and eventually hosted a series of news programs. He won an Emmy for his coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1999.
Even with his massive amount of success, Blitzer has still found time to give back to UB. In 2003, he endowed the UB David Blitzer Lecture Series in Jewish Studies in honor of his late father. This year, the lecture series features a number of influential Jewish activists and scholars, including Kenneth Seeskin, a professor of Jewish Civilization at Northwestern University.
Blitzer often visits Buffalo and is thankful to the city for all of the opportunities it gave him and his family when they first came to this country.
“Buffalo was a fabulous community for my family and for me. Some of my best friends today are young people I met in Buffalo,” Blitzer said. “I just think Buffalo is a warm community that took my family in and welcomed them and gave us a lot of opportunities. I think I miss that the most [when I’m away].”
With all of the paths he’s followed on the road to becoming one of CNN’s most influential anchors, Blitzer has only two pieces of advice for those hoping to follow in his footsteps: ask questions and practice.
“Ask lots of questions and you’ll have a front row seat to history,” Blitzer said. “Also, practice. If you want to be a reporter, go out and report, j
ust like if you want to be a tennis player, you go out and play tennis. Practice.”


In other Blitzer news The Hill is reporting that Wolf and Chef Bobby Flay will be the special guests at Capitol File's party after the White House Correspondents Association dinner on May 1st. The Capitol File party is presented by Jason Bing and will be held at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. Guests including John Cusack, Arianna Huffington, Bill Maher, Jeremy Renner and Twitter CEO & Founder, Evan Williams will hit the dance floor to the beats of DJ Cassidy who spun for President Barack Obama's Inauguration party.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ratings for The Week Of April 5th

1 - Based on 4 nights of regular programming

Rating calculations are weekly averages based on nightly ratings provided by TVNewser with data by Nielsen Media Research. Numbers reflect Live and same day (DVR) data.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Marriage Woes

TMZ is reporting that both Larry King and Shawn Southwick filed for divorce today after an explosive argument at their home in Beverly Hills. They reported that cars screeched out of the driveway, just after a nuclear argument. Supposedly the marriage fell apart over allegations of infidelity. Sources say Shawn is accusing Larry of having an affair with one of her close relatives.
Larry King had no comment, so far.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Documentaries to Premier on CNN

At Tuesday mornings Newsmaker Breakfast for the ad community CNN unveiled ambitious plans for new documentaries and investigative reports.

CNN Unveils New Documentary Programming and Original Special Investigations*

At a time when the broadcast and cable news networks have essentially walked away from true documentary development, CNN continues to invest in enterprise and investigative reporting that is critical to the future of quality journalism. Over the next six months, over a dozen hours of original documentaries and special series will debut on the only news network still dedicated to non-partisan reporting. Upcoming, CNN will present the following long-form original programs on education, the environment, terrorism, culture, Haiti and others:

HAITI– Rescued
Premiere: Sat. May 8, & Sun., May 9, 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m. (one hour; all times Eastern)

CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien investigates the plight of those left most vulnerable in the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake – Haiti’s children. Told through the eyes of 7-year-old Cendy Jeune and former child slave Marckenson Oliphi, O’Brien reports on how Haiti’s orphans struggle to overcome immense obstacles – crushing poverty and the shame of child slavery. Along the way, O’Brien interviews people connected to Haiti’s almost 400,000+ orphans – missionaries, aid workers, and relatives, all who themselves must overcome bureaucracies and a frail recovery from the powerful earthquake.

Sat., Apr. 17 at 7 p.m., Sun., Apr. 18, at 6 p.m. (one hour; all times Eastern)

CNN Newsroom anchor Don Lemon interviews U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a dynamic town hall about America’s schools. Sec. Duncan will answer questions straight from parents, teachers and students in Atlanta on the realities they face everyday ranging from school facilities and safety to standardized testing.

Week-long series begins the week of May 10, followed by one hour special on Sat., May 15, & Sun., May 16, at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m. (one hour; all times Eastern)

Bryant Neal Vinas, born and raised in New York, a once friendly, baseball-playing Catholic altar boy, is now a sworn enemy of the U.S. CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year tracing Vinas’ life’s journey, learning how and why he became a hate-filled terrorist helping al Qaeda plan a bomb attack on New York City. Exclusive images and first-time interviews yield the most intimate portrait ever of an American homegrown terrorist.

Coming in June 2010 (two hours)

Almost thirty years after the murders of over 25 Black children, teens and young adults, CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien investigates the nearly 2-year siege of fear that gripped the city of Atlanta. Although Wayne Williams continues to profess his innocence from behind bars, with his arrest and conviction, he was described as both a “monster”– and the nation’s first Black serial killer. With exclusive access, O’Brien examines new evidence to offer viewers a new look at the persistent doubts, and decide for themselves who was responsible for all those lost young lives. Viewers will be able to vote for their verdict on this case on

Multi-part series coming in June 2010

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper revisits the watershed 1947 “Doll Test,” conducted by married African-American psychologists Mamie and Kenneth Clark. The study explored how children interpret race and discrimination, and their original research was included in the arguments for the plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien and Cooper engage a 21st-century team of child psychologists to design and analyze this culturally pivotal social experiment. They explore what has changed in the 60 years since those original children taught the nation powerful lessons about prejudice and segregation that helped to desegregate America.

Coming in June 2010 (one hour)

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta presents a year-long investigation into toxic chemicals and public health. With a focus on once-rural Mossville, Louisiana, Gupta investigates citizen’s complaints that the nearby plastics’ industry and other chemical plants are responsible for widespread cancers, respiratory diseases, and other ailments. Gupta talks to residents organizing to face down a frustrating bureaucracy as they seek help – and a local grandmother chemist who says she was taking on industry long before Erin Brockovich.

Coming in June 2010 (two hours)

Gary and Tony are life-long gay activists. They also share a classic, traditional dream – marriage and a baby. Unable to legally marry in the U.S., they travel to Canada, get married, and spend thousands on an arduous journey toward parenthood via surrogacy and in vitro fertilization. CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien finds that though Gary and Tony had hoped for a happy extended family, they discover instead ambivalence about same sex marriage. With court battles, and struggles against their hometown community – can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents?

Coming in June 2010 (one hour)

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on best selling author Bruce Feiler (“Walking the Bible”), who after a devastating diagnosis in 2008 of osteosarcoma (a rare and aggressive bone cancer), thought he was going to die. He endured brutal treatments and decided to form a “Council of Dads” for his twin girls. A group of his closest male friends would in effect take his place as father to his girls should he not make it. Each father represents a special gift and value which Feiler feels is important to pass on to his daughters who are soon to turn five years old. Feiler,author of the forthcoming book “Council of Dads” continues to fight his cancer.

Coming in August 2010 (one hour)

Five years after the famous hurricane that nearly destroyed the city of New Orleans, CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien investigates what progress has been made and what, if any, lessons have been learned from the events that followed the storm. O’Brien reveals what has happened to survivors and what officials are doing to prevent “another Katrina” from ever happening again.

Coming in October 2010 (two hours)

Martin Luther King, Jr. described 11-o’clock on Sunday mornings as “the most segregated hour in America.” He hoped the Black Church would become a “Beloved Community,” where everyone – sharecropper to businessman – would be treated equally, working together for social justice. Indeed, the Black Church provided the vision and the foot power for the movement that reshaped America. Churches have long been central to African-American community life, supplying food, money, and social connections. Four decades after the Civil Rights Movement, CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O’Brien uncovers how close the Black Church remains to this vision and talks to church leaders and believers about today’s role of the Black Church in America

*Turner Press Release 4/13/10
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Fortunes Are News

Could it be Mr. Walton is trying to prepare his troops for the disappointment of falling ad revenues? Here is his letter to the CNN staff published by TVNewswer today.

April 12, 2010
To: CNN Staff
From: Jim Walton


Tomorrow morning, CNN will host a Newsmakers presentation for the advertising community in New York. In panel discussions featuring CNN journalists from across the organization, we will talk broadly about our vision, our strengths and our multi-platform reach. I'm writing to tell you about it because you may see follow-up press coverage on the event and CNN.

I should say more press coverage on CNN.

In a few weeks, we will mark 30 years of building a global news business. Being first, reporting as and where stories happen, bringing focus, bringing honor to our profession-all of these also bring us our share of attention. Our fortunes, whether up or down, are news. We are experiencing a down period in one segment of our business, CNN/U.S. prime time. Critics have taken note and are offering all manner of suggestions for how to "fix" CNN. What's missing from these reports is an essential component of our journalism: context.

CNN/U.S. prime time is a high-profile piece of a much larger story. Its advertising revenue accounts for less than 10 percent of CNN's worldwide revenue; the remaining 90 percent comes from non-prime time programming on the network, as well as HLN,, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, CNN Airport Network and all of the other CNN-branded news and information platforms that together deliver more news to more people than any other news organization in the world. So when Anderson Cooper reports live from Haiti in prime time on U.S. linear television, his ratings matter to us. But so do his numbers on our international networks, online, on mobile devices, in airports and hotel rooms, to our more than 1,000 affiliate partners and in all the other places and ways that people around the world access his smart, unbiased, leading journalism.

That we manage a portfolio of successful news platforms is a CNN difference and a distinct competitive advantage. Despite operating a cyclical business in a time of economic, political, technological and social change perhaps never seen in such magnitude, CNN has grown its profit year over year by more than 10 percent for six consecutive years. WeĆ¢€™ve continued the newsgathering investment that ensures our immediacy and relevance. Our innovation in the social media space with partners including Facebook, YouTube and Apple is bringing the next generation of news consumers to the CNN brand. And our U.S. audience remains larger by millions than that of any other cable news network.

I understand the concern of some of our critics. I even agree with some of what they are saying. Because people trust us and depend on us, they hold CNN to a higher standard. We will continue to evolve where we need to, just as we always have. Meanwhile, news will happen around the world and we'll report it. CNN/U.S. and each of the CNN networks and businesses will remain essential in moments that matter. We will stay true to our strategy, values and journalistic integrity. We will not be partisan or beholden to any political or ideological agenda. We will do and be just fine.

That's the story we're telling tomorrow. It's a good one. I wanted you to hear it first, and again. Have a good day.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Your Views on the News, April 9, 2010

Here's a little light reading to fill your weekend. All have to do with CNN's ratings woes and what can/should be done about it.

This first article is called CNN May Need ABC/CBS to Survive, by Phil Rosenthal
Here's a short sample:
For years, the potential of a partnership or merger with a broadcast network news division has been discussed. Between CNN's troubles and economic-driven cuts and concerns elsewhere, this might be the time to pull the trigger with either ABC or CBS.
Whichever broadcaster CNN married, the two would share resources and spread out costs the way NBC News does with MSNBC. Cable would provide a place to rerun broadcast reports and reuse network reporters over the course of the day. But it's more than just a time and money play.

The next article is from the New York Times: Can CNN Be Saved by Ross Douthat
Here's a snippet:
People at CNN see themselves as victims of a polarized political culture — and to some extent, they are. But high-minded self-pity only gets you so far. At a media event in Washington recently, I watched a CNN producer try to persuade a gaggle of skeptical right-wing journalists that the network’s hosts really are objective. (“You’d be surprised how some of them vote!”) Even if they were, it wouldn’t matter. The disinterested anchorman pose worked when TV news ran for 30 minutes every night at 6 p.m. It doesn’t work across hours and hours of prime time, with Campbell Brown blurring into John King blurring into Wolf Blitzzzzzz... .

What CNN Should Do With Itself in Primetime by Jay Rosen
In Rosen's opinion:
Maybe the View from Nowhere has failed, not because audiences want opinion rather than news but because the Voice of God isn’t as convincing as it once was. From this point of view, nothing will improve at CNN until the people running the news report consider that viewlessness may not be an advantage but ideology-in-command is not the only alternative.

And finally a two part series in Vanity Fair entitled To Save Itself CNN Needs to Get Smarter by Andrew Cohen
Here is a sample of Cohen's analysis:
The problem with CNN these days is that when there is no major breaking news it cannot consistently offer up compelling television. I see that as a virtue, not a vice—after all, screaming tabloid-y headlines aside, the world is not in a state of perpetual crisis and television journalists shouldn’t pretend it is. Unfortunately, however, television-news executives evidently think the world is still holding a gun to their heads requiring them to provide live programming at all costs, even when the news of the day does not warrant it. Watching CNN these days when nothing big is happening feels a lot like watching bad tap dancing.

And the VF follow up article that took a look at reaction to the original article.
The Future of CNN: Readers React

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Important Your $$$$$ This Weekend

This weekend, CNN’s Your $$$$$ will feature sections of I.O.U.S.A.: Solutions – America’s Debt Crisis, a groundbreaking and timely documentary that takes on what some say is the biggest problem facing our country – the national debt. In this follow-up film to the original documentary I.O.U.S.A. featured on CNN last year, the dire debt situation is explored from all angles. Your $$$$$ co-host Christine Romans moderates a panel that not only covers all viewpoints, but spans across generations. I.O.U.S.A.: Solutions is a documentary directed by Patrick Creadon, produced by Christine O’Malley, and presented by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Panel guests include: Pete Peterson, Founder and Chairman of Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Blackstone Group and former U.S. Commerce Secretary; David Walker, President and CEO, Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former U.S. Comptroller General; Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator and Managing Director, Allen & Company LLC; Amy Holmes, Independent Conservative and Co-Host, Talk Radio Network’s “American Morning News;” Diane Lim Rogers, Chief Economist, The Concord Coalition and Blogger,; Maya Maguineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Director, Fiscal Policy Program, New America Foundation; Joe Johns, CNN Correspondent; Jeanne Sahadi, Senior Writer, CNNMoney.

CNN Your $$$$$ - I.O.U.S.A.: Solutions - America's Debt Crisis will be 2 hours
1 – 3 pm (ET) on Saturday and 3-5pm (ET) on Sunday!!!!!!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ratings For The Week Of March 29th

1 - Based on four nights of regular programming
2 - Based on three nights of regular programming

Rating calculations are weekly averages based on nightly ratings provided by TVNewser with data by Nielsen Media Research. Numbers reflect Live and same day (DVR) data.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

CC's SOTU to Originate in NOLA is reporting that “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” will originate from New Orleans this Sunday (April 11). The program will arrive in town earlier in the week to cover the Southern Republican Leadership Council. The conference will be attended by 2,500 to 3,500 people and will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from April 8-10.

A tie in to the premiere of “Treme,” a new drama from CNN’s Time Warner corporate cousin HBO, is also rumored to be in the works for SOTU on Sunday.Treme is new HBO drama series that takes place three months after Hurricane Katrina. It follows the lives of residents of NOLA, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and others as they try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the hurricane. The series is scheduled to premiere April 11th on HBO. To read more about this series here's a link to its HBO homepage.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Your Views on the News April 4, 2010

ATC readers and bloggers have talked at length about how CNN can improve, now has put in their two cents on the subject. The following article appeared on their website on March 31st. Click here for the link to the the blog.

How to fix CNN
By: Michael Calderone
March 31, 2010 05:33 PM EDT

The future of CNN, never exactly bright the past couple of years, suddenly looked dire this week when ratings came out showing a 40 percent decline in prime-time viewers since 2009.

Jon Klein, the network's president, has consistently defended its down-the-middle news strategy, despite the increasingly large ratings leads opened up by MSNBC and particularly Fox, with their ideological slants and big personalities.

So is it time for a radical rethinking of “the most trusted name in news,” the network of Larry King, Anderson Cooper, Campbell Brown and Wolf Blitzer? We asked a dozen or so prominent media watchers, former industry executives and CNN personalities for their recommendations.

Their near consensus: It has to change, get more personality, no longer be — as one media critic called it — “the view from nowhere.” Exactly how to do that was not so easy to agree on — and one person we asked, Phil Donahue, doesn’t think the network needs to change at all. But the responses from everyone else broke down into five different approaches.

Bring back “Crossfire”

Ask a couple of former “Crossfire” hosts for a solution to CNN’s ratings troubles, and maybe it’s not a surprise what their answer is: Resurrect their old show.

Both Michael Kinsley and Bill Press — each of whom had stints taking the liberal side of the right vs. left political slugfest — think it’s worth a shot.

By bringing back “Crossfire,” they argue, CNN could continue with its strategy of not falling squarely on the left or the right in prime time but still offer lively opinion on both sides — something it appears viewers want.

Five years ago, one of Klein’s first orders of business after becoming network president was killing off the long-running show, a pioneer in high-decibel political debate that had been the recipient of harsh on-air criticism from "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart just a few months before.

“When he unceremoniously dumped it, Jon Klein said he wanted straight news and not commentary or opinion,” Kinsley told POLITICO. “And now he's got everyone expressing opinions left and right — because that's what people like.’

“’Crossfire’ used to vie with 'Larry King' as the network's No. 1 show — and we beat him on many nights, even though he had us as a lead-in and we had Lou Dobbs,” Kinsley said, adding that he means “the early Lou Dobbs, the boring corporate suck-up, not the new exciting xenophobic Lou Dobbs of legend.”

“We were No. 1,” said Press, a top liberal radio host who was on “Crossfire” from 1996 to 2003. He described Klein’s pulling the plug on “Crossfire” as “one of the biggest mistakes in the history of modern television journalism.”

Forget neutral — create a new identity

Davidson Goldin, the former editorial director of MSNBC, who now runs a communications business in New York, worked at CNN’s cable news competitor as it morphed into a liberal alternative to Fox in the evenings. From that experience, he thinks that “CNN needs to find an identity and own that identity.”

“A news channel trying to build a brand by saying they cover news is like a restaurant trying to become popular by saying it cooks food,” he said.

“What we understood from the get-go was that by focusing on opinion [and] analysis and using topic-area expertise to draw conclusions, we could easily differentiate ourselves from CNN, [which] was so wedded to just regurgitating the facts,” Goldin said.

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, author of the PressThink blog, said the choice doesn’t have to be between “the view from nowhere” — what reporters might call "straight down the middle" journalism” — and the Fox News/MSNBC model.

“Maybe the view from nowhere has failed, not because audiences want opinion rather than hard news but because the Voice of God isn't as convincing as it once was,” Rosen said. “Nothing will improve at CNN until the people running the news report consider that viewlessness may not be an advantage, but ideology is not the only alternative.”

Press added that he thinks CNN “is going to have to bite the bullet and do some advocacy programming” because, in his opinion, “there ain’t no room in the middle.”

Viewers, he continued, get their straight news elsewhere and are “looking for opinion in prime time ... anchors with an edge.”

Bring in big personalities

Adding more “edge” in prime time doesn’t necessarily mean rushing out to hire a fire-breathing host from the left or the right. Personalities larger than life, or so normal they stand out, would do the trick.

Michael Wolff, founder of and a Vanity Fair contributing editor, pointed out that “the viewing audience is just less and less interested in traditional television, civic-minded news delivered by what are, in effect, news readers.”

“CNN has to figure out how to make the news either more efficient or more entertaining,” Wolff continued. “These are the two keystones of modern news, and the network is deficient on both counts. I suppose I would try formats that gave you what you need to know in minutes instead of blocks and personalities that had stronger voices — not necessarily ideological voices, but more unique and identifiable ones.”

As for who could fill that role, Wolff said it could be “anybody who doesn't reek of conventional television.”

Wolff noted one of the secrets of Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes’s success: “Find people who don't look or sound like what you think television people should look and sound like.”

Aaron Brown, who was replaced in 2005 by Cooper at 10 p.m., said that CNN doesn’t have the “big, broad personalities” who seem to excel these days in the evenings on cable news. Brown included himself in that group, along with Campbell Brown, John King and Cooper.

“If I were at CNN, the thing that would scare me is not that we’re losing but that it’s that reruns are beating us,” Brown said. “At 10 p.m., a 2-hour-old “Countdown” is beating my guy, the guy I have invested millions in [in] promotional dollars.”

Jazz up the broadcast

Atlantic contributing editor Michael Hirschorn, a former top executive at VH1 who founded production company Ish Entertainment, said CNN should step away from “headline-type news,” which has become “increasingly easy to access and, therefore, commodified.”

“What's working right now is news packaged as entertainment,” Hirschorn continued, “which is a tempting route for them to go down and which they've gone down in a toe-in-the-water kind of way.” He pointed out the short-lived comedy news show hosted by D.L. Hughley as an example.

However, Hirschorn said that “it's a gamble they can only take once in earnest.”

“What might yield more rewards is doing a full overhaul of their news operations,” he continued. “Update the look, the language, the production style. If you look at some of the stuff the BBC is doing, it's a lot more nimble, raw, real, less larded with the kind of newsy bushwa Jon Stewart makes fun of. But that would involve firing a lot of producers and on-air personalities, and that's always hard to do."

Hirschorn believes CNN could find success by focusing more on specific audiences, creating “focused shows that serve specific audiences." “’Morning Joe’ may have a small audience, but the people who love it love it,” he said. (While still behind "Fox & Friends," the MSNBC morning show topped CNN, CNBC and HLN in number of viewers last month.)

Mix it up ...

Others suggested everything from tweaking the current lineup — perhaps with a new personality or two — to scrapping it in exchange for something completely different.

If Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy had his way, the network would bring back Aaron Brown at 10 p.m. and move Cooper to 9 p.m.

Kennedy, who also writes the Media Nation blog, said that he likes “the idea of leaving CNN as the sole cable net doing news during prime time” and that he enjoyed it when Brown squared off against Brian Williams’s old 10 p.m. newscast on MSNBC. “They were both terrific, and you could just pick whichever one seemed most interesting on a given night,” he said.

“The 8 o'clock hour is probably going to be a loser no matter what you do, because CNN is up against the heavyweight bout between Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann,” Kennedy said. “Yet it's important to get things off to a good start, since you need a decent lead-in for 9 p.m.”

“Wouldn't it have been great to have a newscast focusing on international news anchored by Christiane Amanpour?” he asked, referring to ABC News’s latest acquisition. “Too late for that.”

Rosen has his own ideas for a 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. lineup.

At 7 p.m., he would rename John King’s show “Politics Is Broken” and focus on “bringing outsiders to Beltway culture and Big Media into the conversation dominated by ... Beltway culture and Big Media.”

Rosen would program “Thunder on the Right” at 8 p.m., a show where a well-informed liberal “mostly covers the conservative movement and Republican coalition and where the majority of the guests (but not all) are right leaning.”

The following hour would be “Left Brained,” a show offering the opposite mix of hosts and guests. And at 10 p.m. would be “Fact Check,” an accountability show with major crowd-sourcing elements” that would cut through “the week's most outrageous lies, gimme-a-break distortions and significant misstatements with no requirement whatsoever to make it come out equal between the two parties on any given day, week, month or season.”

Rachel Sklar, editor-at-large of Mediaite, a media industry website, didn’t call for a return of “Crossfire” but does think one of its last hosts on the right should make a comeback on CNN. Her idea of a good pair: Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox.

Both Carlson, who this year co-founded The Daily Caller, and Cox, currently the Washington correspondent for GQ, have had lively debates on The Washington Post’s website. Sklar described Carlson as “authentic and engaging on air” while noting that Cox has “a built-in audience, thanks to Twitter and [filling in for MSNBC host Rachel] Maddow and the cool-kid cred that CNN seems to crave.”

“They had a good thing going in their WaPo chats, and I bet that would play well onscreen — they’re smart and watchable, and neither of them is particularly afraid to piss anyone off,” Sklar continued. “And while they take the news seriously, they don't take the players — or themselves! — seriously. As a general rule, maybe that's the way to go.”

But don’t screw it up

“If they ‘fix’ CNN to be like Fox and MSNBC, then who will we turn to when we want that breaking news coverage?” Sklar asked. “The breaking news coverage without an agenda?”

Prime time, she noted, is only a “piece of the puzzle,” with the demo — the prized age 25-54 demographic — even smaller.

“Stop for a moment and think about what CNN stands for. It feels pretty important right now,” Sklar said. “So, yes, tinker with the execution, by all means — that’s clearly broken, and there are ways to fix it. But the central mission matters, and I still truly believe there's a market for it.”

Aaron Brown, now the Walter Cronkite professor of journalism at Arizona State University, makes the point that while CNN is taking heat for its prime-time ratings, the network is still a “highly profitable business” overall.

“What they do have to do is endure the fact that each month or week or year, there are going to be stories about how they get their asses kicked,” Brown said. “But as a business, they are doing just fine.”

Indeed, while any network would want to turn a profit and take home bragging rights in the ratings, Brown pointed out that the former is still the primary goal for executives.

“If I had to choose and I’m [CNN Worldwide President] Jim Walton or the Time Warner guys, I’d choose to make a fortune,” Brown said. “If I’m anchoring the show, I’d want to win, or I wouldn’t want to lose to a rerun.”

And then there is Donahue, the daytime talk show pioneer who hosted an MSNBC prime-time show from 2002 to 2003. He said he hopes CNN will weather the current trend in cable news.

“At this moment, their competition is more entertaining than they are,” Donahue said. “And I admire them for holding on and not being seduced by that kind of arm-waving.”

But at this point, for CNN, holding on may not be enough.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

from All Things CNN

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Soledad O'Brien To Speak At Bay Path College

Soledad O'Brien will be speaking at Bay Path College on April 30th as part of their Women's Leadership Conference. Here's the details from the Bay Path College website:

Women's Leadership Conference


Longmeadow, MA—Bay Path College will hold its annual Women’s Leadership Conference on Friday, April 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA. Celebrating its 15th year as one of the premiere, regional events attended by over 1,000 women and men, this year’s conference captures the spirit of participation and action with the theme Community Matters!

The 2010 keynote speakers are renowned human activists from the local to the global community level, and include acclaimed special investigations correspondent and host of CNN’s In America documentaries Soledad O’Brien; the mother-daughter team of Leigh Anne and Collins Tuohy, mother and daughter of the family who inspired the 2010 Academy Award-nominated film The Blind Side; Cambodian human rights advocate and CNN Hero Somaly Mam; and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and co-author of the best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide Nicholas D. Kristof.

Keynote Speakers – Background

One of the most recognized broadcasters of television news, Soledad O’Brien is the special correspondent and anchor for CNN’s special investigations unit. Since joining CNN in 2003, she has covered Hurricane Katrina and the South Asian tsunami, as well as breaking news in the war in Iraq and across the country. In 2008, she co-anchored CNN’s election coverage, and is the host of CNN’s In America series, reporting for Black in America, Black in America 2, and Latino in America.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

The Daily Show Talks CNN and Stephen Colber Tackles Scientology

The Daily Show aired this clip on CNN last night.

And the Colbert Report aired this clip on the AC360 Scientology series.

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Cal and Karl: new decor in Atlanta

David Clinch (CNN Senior International Editor and Social Media Expert) tweeted this morning that this photo of Cal Perry and Karl Penhaul in South Lebanon was put up in the new CNN Newsroom in Atlanta. (As you can see, it was put up next to the men's room -- surely only because of all the expected traffic there!)

Follow all of them on Twitter for updates and general snarkiness. (Cal's ongoing rage at the owner of the Orioles is epic!)

@DavidClinchCNN *** @CalPerryCNN *** @KarlPenhaulCNN

Thanks, guys!

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