Network on Network Violence?

Al Jazeera’s Senior Political Analyst Marwan Bishara writes about CNN’s MH370 obsession…

When it became known that all 239 passengers are believed dead, CNN didn’t lower the flag and didn’t lower its guard. Its top guns continued to lead, soliciting experts’ opinions, conducting flight simulations, deciphering satellite imagery – anything to keep its viewers glued to their TV sets.

And it has been widely ridiculed for it. But before you laugh, it’s worth considering if CNN is onto something here. At least commercially.

According to the rating group Nielsen, CNN’s viewership in the weeks after the plane went missing was up 84 percent. (During that same period, Fox News has seen an uptick of only two percent, while MSNBC is down 11 percent.)

So what is the vanguard of cable news up to? Is this a watershed moment in its short history similar to the iconic live coverage of the US bombings at the break of the first Iraq in 1991, with Peter Arnett reporting: “The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated”?

Is it a coverage by default or by design? The culmination of calculated strategy to steer the network away from hard news? Many questions beg for answers.

We’ll skip the questions and answers and head straight to the end…

And it’s working. It’s wreaking havoc in the ratings, attracting advertisers and dollars. But how does this new media strategy by Zucker & Co affect journalism? It’s one thing to expand the definition of news; but it’s another thing to transform (deform?) journalism.

Perhaps the most intriguing, not to say annoying thing about the whole affair, is what appears to be CNN journalists’ acquiescence to the new marching orders. I mean, it’s not like they all wake up every morning thinking: I must cover the Malaysia Airlines story today any which way and try my best to ignore the rest of the world.

These seasoned journalists know all too well, that “Malaysia, Truly Asia” is only a slogan used by Malaysia Tourism. They know that there’s a whole world beyond Malaysia, a world full of tragedies and mysteries to report.

Ouch. Network on Network violence is never pretty. But at the same time there’s also this…

PS, I/we are indebted to those in CNN and other networks who’ve taken the time to show solidarity with our imprisoned colleagues in Egypt.

At the bottom there is the requisite “Get out of jail free” card…

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Maybe. But I doubt there was any hand wringing in Doha over letting that article go out either…

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4 Responses to “Network on Network Violence?”

  1. Al Jazeera America’s lobbed all kinds of bombs at the other networks.

  2. And I must say, it’s great. Much needed.

  3. This wasn’t AJA but the mother ship…

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