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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Your Views on the News, June 19, 2010

There was a good read in Newsroom Magazine this week comparing CNN to Goldman Sachs.

"Goldman Sachs sought out the brightest talent, developed the longest reach, and amassed the most power of any financial services firm in history. Over the same period, CNN sought out the brightest journalists, made itself the premiere world-wide news producer, and developed the longest reach of any journalistic endeavor in history. Fast forward a bit."

Today, both organizations are at major inflexion points. Goldman Sachs involuntarily, due to federal investigations that threaten both the firm and its senior managers, and CNN voluntarily perhaps, due to differences in values and culture between its immensely successful journalistic operations and its still-profitable pseudo news television business.

Bubbles Eventually Burst
CNN enjoys two qualities Goldman somehow lost: An ethical foundation shared by large numbers of employees and time to make its own decision about the future — something Goldman lost when the SEC accused the firm of duplicitous dealings.

But, there are many other similarities. Both firms have been a driving force behind immense bubbles that have had immense impact on their own businesses as well as everyone else similarly engaged.

If Goldman’s bubble has been burst by Justice Department investigations, as now seems to case, CNN’s current concerns over domestic television ratings has the feel of a major inflexion point from which the company may choose to exit the bubble, or continue to escalate it.

Time To Return To Sobriety?
The core issue behind the inflexion point at hand is CNN’s willingness to continue the pretense that what makes entertaining television and what constitutes responsible journalism can, or ought to be commingled in the name of profitability. CNN president Jim Walton seems, for the moment, not to be overly worried about CNN primetime ratings.

Some may think this evidence of a return to sobriety at CNN, if not reason to believe journalism may yet win back greater control over domestic television content.

While Walton’s long history at CNN, and journalistic roots, might suggest an eventual exit from the pseudo news bubble, pressures to achieve optimum financial performance at Turner Broadcasting ( and parent Time-Warner ) argue otherwise.

When Money’s The Issue, Nothing Else Seems To Matter
The central issue is money and how to make as much as possible. These are not core values of journalism, but commercial success has always been the foundation upon which journalism, whether good or bad, earned its keep. The question that defines CNN’s inflexion point is whether pursuing the present pseudo news bubble is too risky.

Given that all bubbles eventually burst, and that those who most profited from the bubble are the ones most damaged in the implosion, would seem to suggest caution — especially for a player that still has largely intact what is arguably the most productive and credible news-gathering operation on the planet.

The question isn’t whether Turner Broadcasting should or shouldn’t have entertainment television channels, but whether they ought to have a relevant, probative and credible news channel. History suggests that such questions are almost always resolved in favor of money — not responsible journalism.

For now, and for many, Jim Walton may be the last responsible adult still in the business. What’s not so clear is whether that any longer matters at CNN.

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Anonymous said...

We are currently living in the Information Age.
More than talk and opinion people exchange
information and something they think is of
significance. The problem for CNN is they
have to come into the 21st century kicking and
screaming. Partisan bickering is so last century.
CNN must move away from things like debate
and my take or their take.CNN has to start
presenting shows in a conversational style
and move to discussion and interviews.
It is widely known that CNN knows Pete over
at Mashable.CNN needs to give their journos
the tools that Mashable constantly talk
about. The style of journalism that is on
cable news now is out of date and needs
to change.We are in the Digital/Information
Age.CNN is competing with Youtube,FaceBook,
Twitter and others. You can reach out to
people who are there and can provide you
with information through 1st hand accounts.
Television is nothing without video. Don't
forget about Vimeo either.Grandmom &
Grandpop are on Facebook along with mom
and dad.We are in a different world and a
different place.CNN is really blowing it when
it comes to social media.CNN thinks it is
about how many followers or fans you have.
Actually it is a lot deeper, it is about connecting,
interaction,involvement and exchanging info
with people from all around the world. The
world is a smaller place and CNN has to think
beyond the island that cable news has put
itself on. How is it that cable news is such
a failure about providing info. I have to say
some of it is laziness. With the click of a
mouse I can find hundreds of news stories
from the globe. My friends and I can attend
an open calling to make a movie in 30
minutes and stream it live on the internet.
Real time news, live streaming get on board
CNN, When we get home and edit our project,
We are gong to upload it to Youtube,Vimeo
and Facebook. Same things with singers
and musicians and poets and artisits.
CNN has got to find a way to connect with
viewers that does not seem to be about
them. They look like scared old media.
I-Report is a step but it has limitations.
Maybe I don't have the time to go out
and shoot video everyday but I do cruise
the web for news and way too often I
find myself asking why is this not on CNN.
Two words : open source. Send us your
comments on what we are talking about
I'm just not feeling it. Now let me hear
see something you think is newsworthy
or adds more to the stories on CNN
send it to me. These are so many tools
that CNN can use to connect with people
all around the world. You no longer have
to be in the same room to talk with people.
Cisco has a great system that is really
good for hooking up for conversations
and interviews. You might have seen the
commercials they call the human network.
Not to even mention the new I-phone.
People get news from so many sources
these days.Every 15 minutes CNN should
have new stories and video. If there is
great sound with the video be quiet and
let me listen.CNN has access to so much
and they need to bring more to television.
People are more engaged and involved
in exchanging news they here about.
They don't talk about it they share the
news and help spread the word. Last
night Don Lemon filled in for Campbell.
It seemed like they were playing around
with the format. However, we thought
the World Cup game with Team USA
being robbed was bigger than the Lakers.
CNN must find a way to constantly
refresh and upgrade the news during
live shows.CNN has got to strengthen
it's news gathering and story selection.
Set up a system at CNN or the 360 blog
for people to register and participate
with the people at CNN and other news
junkies. Definitely, no offensive material
or insults to other users or you are out.
CNN has to be intelligent and informative.
Information overload. We will post more

Anonymous said...

The Crossfire idea s not even being well received
at the Huffington Post either. 2 things people say
is that the ratings for Crossfire were not to good
and what's news, It is CNN doing the same old
thing over and over again.

Anonymous said...

There is NO comparison between Goldman/Sachs and CNN. One is under federal investigation for financial impropriety, and is still surviving and making money because of former lack of gov't oversight, and CNN is just surviving. The only true statement the author makes is calling CNN a "pseudo news organization." He wants us to believe that CNN is still very successful, though misguided. I don't buy it.
He mentions Jim Walton having influence, when in fact, it is Ted Turner who said that CNN MUST introduce sports to their agenda and they are, it seems. A golf program is being promoted for next week, so my guess is, Ted Turner's suggestions still far out way Jim Walton's experience. He's also a realist who sees a once thriving news worthy organization, that HE founded, run to the ground and as long as his name sake is still tied to the network, he will not let it fail.

Anonymous said...

David Carr at the NY TImes says it best. CNN
is not good at picking shows and they are
about to really mess things up. Carr says that
John King, USA is a failure and Anderson Cooper
is the core of CNN.It is quite simple CNN should
build around 360.If the rumors are true CNN
will head right over a cliff. Content, format,
presentation and delivery matter. Does CNN
have anyone who is in charge of developing
programs or do they just make stuff up.It is
absolutely ridiculous to think more people
are going to start watching CNN if they have
left vs right. Currently, the talking heads have
to much power in the news. I can't believe
that there is not one news executive who will
say enough the era of talking head news must
end if news wants credibility. Thank goodness
for the internet, it is the only source of real
detailed information and you are not subjected
to opinion unless you want it. That is a huge
problem for CNN. I dare CNN to try one show
in prime time without the pundits or talking
heads and to go with fast paced, factually
based news show sort of what Yahoo does
with Who Knew. Cable news is loosing a
whole generation because it is not worth
watching and nobody dares to change the
game and reinvent cable news. That is what
puzzles me about Jim Walton he has been
at CNN from it's humble beginnings and
he can't find anyone in the news business
who can reinvent CNN and has fresh ideas
and innovation rather than lousy shows.
Is there anyone in the news business who
is innovative and forward thinking like
Steve Jobs, who is very good about coming
up with products that people like.It is like
the new KIA commercial with the song
the choice is yours and you can get with
this or that.So go ahead CNN be the black
sheep of the news business so that you
will stand out in cable news.In The Info
Age, people consume massive amount of
news and they have no problem with it.
Cable news slows things down with
mindless chatter. Unless someone can
come on to enhance CNN's anchors and
reporters they don't need to be on national

Anonymous said...

@7:42AM: "While Anderson Cooper hasn't moved the dial much, he is a core asset, on brand and on message, and would do better with a stronger lead in." by David Carr.
Did we read the same article? That sentence is a direct quote from Carr, and it does not say that Mr.Cooper is the core of CNN, at least not in my mind. It says he is an asset, and important one but not the core...and that's just the problem with CNN. CNN has NO CORE. Klein has promoted and promoted and promoted anderson coooper to make him the CORE. Every intro to every show, including Ali Velchi, who was so supposed to be a business wonk, last year, had to have an AC intro.
This is EXACTLY the reason why CNN is failing. Klein put all his eggs in one basket, a mighty big salary increase for Cooper, but a failing network with everyone straggling behind him.
No lead in, except perhaps Katie Couric, is going to help Mr.Cooper. Mr Cooper helps himself it seems. When he's not doing news, he's promoting himself in many other venues, like R&K. Unlike Mr.Klein he has not put all his eggs in one basket and he cannot hold up an entire network and expect it to last.
So now we have Anderson Cooper, reprising his role in the Gulf, and what's happening to the rest of CNN?? Absolutely nothing, because Jon Klein, in his infinite wisdom, chose to overuse the one asset he already had, Mr Cooper, to the point of nauseum, at the cost of everyone else, including Mr.King...and that's John King and not Larry, and the viewer quite frankly, is sick of it all.

Anonymous said...

I don;t think anyone would say AC is why
CNN is failing. Ideology & pundits are a
drag on CNN's ratings not Anderson Cooper.
360 is CNN's top show. sot how could AC
be the reason for the ratings.CNN has to
build around Anderson and get the right
shows at 7,8 and 9 pm.

Anonymous said...

@8:05PM: I NEVER said that AC was the CAUSE of CNN's failure. If you
COMPREHENDED, I said Jon Klein over promoted him without promoting others as well and that he alone could not hold up the network. He was OVER EXPOSED.

Anonymous said...

Fox News, no matter what you might think of them, have gotten it right when it comes to celebrity. Yes, they are partisan, but we all know that O'Reilly is #1 on cable. They don't use him to promote other shows. Everyone has a certain place on the networks radar, GLen Beck, Sean Hannity, Chris Wallace, Fox&Friends, Greta, they are all treated with equal respect and that's why FOX is where it is. Roger Ailes was smart, a lot smarter it seems than Jon Klein. No one was ever promoted to the exclusion of others and that's why CNN is in trouble, trouble they rightfully deserve.