Archive for the CNN Category

Inside The Sixties Party…

Posted in CNN on June 4, 2014 by icn2

New York Daily News’ Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke writes about CNN’s party for it’s new The Sixties mini-series…

The schmaltz factor was high at the premiere party last Wednesday evening, the night before the network debut.

A crowd of media types, most of whom hadn’t been alive during the actual ’60s, gathered under the stars in Grand Central’s main concourse, pushing past confused commuters to get to Vanderbilt Hall. As the crowd grew, the overwhelmed event coordinators threw open the rope, not bothering to check the list. After all, there were retro cocktails and, because some things never change, thirsty people to drink them.

We almost tripped over the shag rug as we made our way to the buffet, which was piled high with plastic TV-dinner trays waiting to be filled with the cuisine of the era like beef stroganoff, green bean casserole with fried onion, and fried chicken. Another table featured shrimp cocktail, twice-baked potatoes and iceberg wedges.

Waiters in granny glasses brought around shots of Swedish meatballs and celery stuffed with pimento cheese. (“It’s really fun and easy to make,” one of them offered with Cold War-era neighborliness.)

“Now, I am sure there are some that wonder why we need a miniseries about the 1960s,” CNN President Jeff Zucker, who was born in 1965, told the crowd. “But the reality is that when you start to think about everything that happened in those 10 years, you realize how many questions remain unanswered and how much we have to learn from that decade of America’s own coming of age.”

News Reaches Page Six…Finally…

Posted in CNN on May 26, 2014 by icn2

Page Six has an uncredited story (and I’ll tell you why that is in a moment) on CNN talent woes…

Time to rename CNN Atlanta headquarters!

All the anchors are moving from Atlanta to New York, to be near boss and decision maker Jeff Zucker, sources tell us.

Oh really? Sources tell you, eh?

Earth to Page Six…this news has been out in the open since last Wednesday when Brooke Baldwin tweeted her move. Costello moving was already speculated upon by myself and others the next day and TVNewser confirmed it later in the day. And now you try to package this already broken story as some sort of new deal revealed by anonymous sources? No wonder this story went out uncredited. I wouldn’t want to have to attach my name to a “new story” that was in fact an old story.

Guh! (TM pending, Keith Olbermann)

I’d keep on slamming Page Six but they do manage to break some new ground, if their sources are reliable…which, given the lead in their piece, does cast a pall over the entire article…

The teams in Atlanta are desperate to find new formats to impress the top brass. The source told us, “We are feverishly trying to come up with something that Jeff likes. Every time we present something, he hates it. Secondly, we can’t find talent who wants to come to CNN. No one wants to come because we scrap things after a year. Every talent agency we contact can’t get us anyone . . . Even talent from larger local markets refuse to come here, ­because they are afraid.” Meanwhile, the source added, “Don Lemon is gunning for a prime-time spot, but Zucker isn’t sold.”

I don’t know about that. Zucker seems to be putting Lemon everywhere he can which is hardly a sign that he “isn’t sold”. But I do imagine that Bill Weir and the rumored primetime show clause in his contract is probably giving Zucker ulcers trying to reconcile the Lemon situation.

CNNI Changes

Posted in CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Merril Knox writes about some major changes to CNNI…

CNN International is making significant programming changes to its lineup, adding new primetime shows and expanding live programming. With the changes, the network is eliminating some jobs in Hong Kong and adding positions in other bureaus.

Among the major changes: the launch of “The World Right Now with Hala Gorani” and “The Business View with Nina dos Santos,” a new time slot and show format for “Connect the World with Becky Anderson,” and an expansion of live news programming for viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (more details are in CNN’s announcement, after the jump). CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson will also be relocating to Hong Kong.

TVNewser hears that about 20 off-air editorial positions have been cut in Hong Kong. A CNNI spokesperson tells us about two dozen positions will be added across the London, Atlanta and Hong Kong bureaus, and those jobs will be posted as early as today.

CNN Ups Mark Preston…

Posted in CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

CNN announced this morning that Mark Preston had been promoted to Executive Editor of CNN Politics…

Mark Preston Promoted to Executive Editor, CNN Politics

Mark Preston has been named Executive Editor, CNN Politics, it was announced today by Sam Feist, CNN senior vice president and Washington bureau chief. In this role, Preston will take a lead in the conception and execution of the network’s political events, including debates. Preston will continue to serve as a political reporter covering campaigns, polling and political events across CNN platforms, including CNN, CNN International and CNN.com. He will also serve as the on-air analyst for CNN’s decision desk in the network’s upcoming election and primary coverage.

“Mark’s new role will put CNN in a terrific position heading into the mid-term elections and beyond,” Feist said. “Mark’s relationships in the political world are among the strongest in journalism and we look forward to Mark leveraging these connections as he organizes events and reports on the upcoming campaign.”
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Lights Out…

Posted in Al Jazeera, BBC World News, CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s Amy Sawitta Lefevre writes about CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera being taken off the air in Thailand…

One of the first actions taken by the generals now running the country was to impose sweeping censorship across the media.

The crackdown on the media appeared to be more vigorous than after the last of Thailand’s frequent coups, in 2006, perhaps, according to some observers, due to greater opposition to the army’s action and a more defiant “blogosphere” online.

“Measures became more aggressive after the coup announcement and now critical opinions are not allowed to be published, broadcast or circulated,” said a television presenter at a state-run station, who declined to be named for fear of breaking the law. “The military have threatened prosecution for any defiance.”

Prayuth’s announcement was followed by bulletins from the army’s own channel, interspersed with patriotic martial music.

Radio and television stations were ordered to suspend normal programming and air only military broadcasts and official content. Media outlets that tried live streaming online through YouTube channels were soon closed.

The blackout extended to foreign broadcasters including CNN, the BBC and Aljazeera. By mid-afternoon on Friday, none were back on air.

Nice Suit…

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

The New York Post’s Salim Algar writes about a discrimination lawsuit being filed by a terminated CNN employee about his sexual orientation and his wardrobe. A suit about a suit, if you will…

…yes, I just had to make that pun…

A gay ex-CNN staffer from Queens claims he was discriminated against and eventually fired for wearing extravagant ensembles that included mariachi suits, yellow track suits and cowboy hats to work.

In a $65 million Brooklyn federal lawsuit filed Thursday, former CNN studio technician William Kane claims that a supervisor, John Silva, hated his taste in clothes and recommended that he transfer to the makeup or entertainment units.

The ATL-NYC Migration Begins?

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin tweeted the following yesterday…

“whatttt… we’re moving?!” ;) “@AnneClaireCNN congrats @BrookeBCNN on the big move to NYC– ATL will miss you dearly pic.twitter.com/ZWhWtYDYK2

It has been an open secret that Jeff Zucker has wanted to move talent from CNN’s Atlanta HQ to New York. What he realistically gains from such a move is kind of lost on me, especially given the currently known state of CNN NY’s studio availability for dayside broadcasts (see: The Legal View’s slightly, but not convincingly, gussied up location inside CNN NY’s newsroom). Baldwin appears to be the first ATL anchor to announce a move to NYC. Will Carol Costello be next? Costello has recently been bouncing around between ATL, NYC, and Washington D.C. a pattern which suggests she too is ultimately NYC bound.

Hopefully CNN will have a real set these ATL transplants can use…

Update: TVNewser’s Merril Knox confirmed this later on…

“Carol Costello and Brooke Baldwin will move to New York to anchor their weekday CNN Newsroom shows, beginning in August. There will be no other changes to those shows’ production team,” a CNN spokesperson told TVNewser. “Atlanta is, and always will be, a critical part of CNN Worldwide’s operations. It remains home to much of our programming and content, including the production for many of our shows, CNN’s worldwide newsgathering operations, CNN Digital, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, HLN and Newsource.”

And it also houses one of CNN’s most modern sets which the network poured a lot of money into. Now it is a set without a show though presumably some show…perhaps on CNNI or HLN…is going to use it going forward. Otherwise its construction will have been a colossal waste of money.

A CNN source tells us having the anchors in New York gives them more on-set guest opportunities.

Ok, yes…this is true. Being located in Atlanta does undercut CNN from getting guests as easily as it would if its news was airing from New York. Now, let us hope they will have a real set these guests can appear on.

Don Lemon Profile…

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder profiles Don Lemon…

“I don’t always agree with you,” the person began, ominously. “But keep it up. I’m not always supposed to agree with you.”

Lemon could think of no sweeter compliment. The 48-year-old news anchor has attracted attention by adding his opinion to stories he’s telling. His bosses are rewarding him with more airtime, and his visibility has increased this spring through coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and other stories. He frequently hosts the 10 p.m. EDT news hour.

His decision to speak out traces directly to coming out publicly as gay in a memoir published three years ago.

Jeff Zucker Speaks…

Posted in CNN on May 20, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Nicole Levy writes about a Jeff Zucker appearance last night at the Deadline Club’s annual awards dinner…

And will it cover the special committee hearings by House Republicans to probe the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack? Zucker told Carter he didn’t know yet.

“We’re not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something,” he said. “If it’s of real news value, we’ll cover it.”

And then there’s this…

The CNN president characterized anchor Don Lemon’s proposal of the theory that a black hole had swallowed the plane—a moment that seemed to crystallize the absurdity of CNN’s coverage for critics—as a regrettable gaffe.

“He was being facetious, but it did not come off that way,” Zucker explained. “And he knows that if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t quite present it that way.”

Press Releases: 05/20/14

Posted in CNN on May 20, 2014 by icn2

CNN (1)

CNN and Smithsonian Affiliates Announce A LOOK INTO THE SIXTIES Exhibit to Open in New York’s Grand Central Terminal

11 Smithsonian Affiliates, additional world-class institutions, and private collections, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, bring the 1960s to life with artifacts from the Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, Woodstock, and more
Exhibit bows during the premiere week of CNN’s THE SIXTIES, which debuts May 29 at 9:00pmET and PT

CNN today announced A LOOK INTO THE SIXTIES, a special exhibit curated in cooperation with 11 Smithsonian-affiliated museums that will open to the public on Tuesday, May 27, at Vanderbilt Hall in New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal. The exhibit, which celebrates the 1960s — an era of momentous change in America — coincides with the May 29 premiere of THE SIXTIES a new series for CNN, executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

“We are so pleased to be partnering with the Smithsonian and its Affiliates on this inspiring, evocative exhibition. Bringing the series to life through these artifacts adds a unique dimension to our storytelling, and will allow visitors to experience first-hand this look at the 10 dynamic, turbulent years that changed the world,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.
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Pile on CNN…

Posted in CNN on May 19, 2014 by icn2

Raw Story’s Scott Kaufman writes about what transpired on Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio Show when Miles O’Brien was on… (via J$)

On the latest episode of his StarTalk Radio Show, Neil DeGrasse Tyson spoke to former CNN science journalist Miles O’Brien about the failures of modern news reporting — particularly at CNN.

As the interview began, O’Brien joked that CNN fired the unit because they were ignorant of celebrity gossip. “After all, what do we know about the Kardashians?”

Ouch. Low Blow. But it gets worse…

“We’re in the boutique age of journalism. CNN is just the department store — the Wal-Mart of journalism,” O’Brien replied, “and think about what that does to quality. There is room for a Madison Avenue boutique, then, for people who care about things that are specific to them, and they will seek you out.”

“They will find you,” Tyson agreed. “They’ll find you.”

And…

“We don’t need reporters,” O’Brien replied. “We can just read the tweets!” This, Tyson and O’Brien agreed, is the direction in which CNN is headed.

O’Brien hammered home this point by recounting a moment, late in his time at CNN, when he walked into his executive producers’ offices with a 2 minute and 30 second science piece and was told that the 24-hours a day, 7-days a week news channel “didn’t have the time” to air it.

“I’m sorry,” an astounded Tyson responded, “but you have all the time! You have all the time!”

So…uh…what’s the over/under on O’Brien showing up as a contributor again on CNN’s air anytime soon?

On the other hand if O’Brien has such disdain for what CNN is doing…why did he agree to be a contributor and appear on their air?

April Ratings Preview…

Posted in CNN, FNC, MSNBC on April 28, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about April ratings…

But since March 13, when the CNN plane coverage was ratcheting up, “Morning Joe,” which has generally enjoyed wide attention in New York-based media, has found itself consistently behind the 10-month-old “New Day” on CNN. From that date, through last Friday “New Day” won 25 days to eight for “Morning Joe.” (Though, in perhaps a sign that the momentum may be shifting back, “Joe” beat “New Day” easily on the last recorded day, April 25.)

“CNN has made itself a punch line on the ‘Daily Show’ for its phony breaking-news headlines and breathless coverage of random ocean debris,” Joe Scarborough, the anchor of “Morning Joe,” said. “ ‘Morning Joe’ topped CNN in the first quarter by covering hard news, just as we have for the past five years. We will do the same in the future and won’t be distracted by ‘X-Files’ cable news programming.”

The average for April among viewers ages 25-54 was 119,000 for “New Day,” to 105,000 for “Morning Joe.” Both were fighting for the right to a distant second to “Fox and Friends,” which averaged 237,000 viewers in the age group.

In February, the month before the plane disappeared, “Morning Joe” had a comfortable margin over “New Day,” 127,000 viewers to 79,000 in that advertiser-preferred group. So “New Day” is up more than 50 percent since then, while “Joe” is down 17 percent.

The morning show problem was only one of many for MSNBC in April. The network, which is mainly devoted to covering politics from a left of center slant, averaged only 112,000 viewers for its total day coverage in April. That was its lowest total since May 2007.

“It was a soft month, no doubt,” said Lauren Skowronski, the spokeswoman for MSNBC. “But they are not going to change the editorial approach for one story. They want to stay on brand.”

More Trouble for CNN…

Posted in CNN on April 28, 2014 by icn2

When the fan site that chronicles your every move decides to pack it in out of frustration…you have a problem…

We’ve tried our best to give CNN a chance to recapture our attention but we’ve finally come to the realization that they have chosen a direction for the network that we simply aren’t interested in documenting. So for now, and the foreseeable future, we are no longer going to be updating All Things CNN or publishing comments to this blog. The archives will remain accessible and our email account will remain active if anyone is interested in acquiring this blog.

In the words of Ted Turner ‘There’s no point in sittin’ around and cryin’ about spilt milk. Gotta move on.’

Know Thy Subject…

Posted in CNN on April 25, 2014 by icn2

Regarding today’s FTVLive insider tip about Jeff Zucker possibly getting rid of CNN’s Tuition Reimbursment Program (which I didn’t bother highlighting as I found it strange), an industry insider emailed in the following…

That is a Time Warner corporate benefit. Zucker can’t get rid of it if he wanted to.

Well, okay then. Looks like FTVLive’s mole is going to have to hunt for something else to throw on the wall and see if it sticks. Because that suggestion apparently didn’t.

More CNN Rumors…

Posted in CNN, Miscellaneous Subjects on April 25, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive is posting some gloomy rumblings out at CNN…

Zucker has claimed to the folks in Atlanta that he isn’t planning to relocate jobs from ATL to NYC, but that is exactly what is happening.

Most of the editing and producing that was done in Atlanta is now being down in CNN’s New York studios.

One insider says that to make matters worse, Zucker is not a fan of some of the company benefits, including CNN’s tuition reimbursement program. If an employee wants to go back to school the company pays half.

Some think that Zucker will get rid of that benefit soon.

I wrote this the day Zucker was hired as President of CNN Worldwide…

I would not at all be surprised to see Zucker implement some version of NBCU 2.0 across CNN Worldwide. In Zucker’s mind NBCU 2.0 was a necessary step in NBC News’ evolution that just about every NBC News executive will publicly state was a success, albeit perhaps a trying success. And with CNN’s uber redundancy, with more bureaus and news staff than any other news network in the US by far, combined with the network’s years going push of all things digital, Zucker has to be extremely tempted to have at that very low hanging fruit begging to be picked. Streamlining and eliminating redundancy cuts costs and increases the bottom line. So long as its ability to deliver quality news is not damaged, increasing the bottom line makes for a nice bullet point in the face of a sluggish ratings trend.

While what’s been going on at CNN Center would hardly resemble the all encompassing NBCU 2.0, it is clear that Zucker wants to trim costs. He’s now trimming costs by laying off people in Atlanta and hiring them cheaper in New York.

Dylan Ratigan to CNN?

Posted in CNN on April 24, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton writes that Dylan Ratigan shot a pilot for CNN yesterday…

Former CNBC and MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan was at CNN yesterday shooting a panel-style show pilot, TVNewser has learned.

Last month, THR reported that Ratigan was among several hosts working on projects for CNN. Network insiders tell us Ratigan’s latest test episode, which is one of many the network is experimenting with, was shot last night at CNN in New York.

It’s just a pilot and a lot of CNN’s pilot’s never make it past that stage. But CNN (read: Jeff Zucker) clearly likes Ratigan so even if this pilot winds up going nowhere that doesn’t mean Ratigan’s chances of winding up on CNN’s air are over…

Moles Living Dangerously…

Posted in CNN on April 24, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive posted some internal video of Jeff Zucker from a Town Hall session. Internal video making it all the way to the internet is a very rare thing. It’s hard to get your hands on in the first place and very dangerous for one’s career to leak out because in this digital age it can be tracked. Just ask Joe Muto.

So our prospective CNN mole here has taken some steps to try and hide their identity:

1. First they didn’t send the raw video. They sent a camera phone videotaping the video.
2. They created a new Vimeo account with the alias of “Larry”.
3. Presumably they waited a while to leak this video. The meeting was at the start of the year and it’s been months since it happened. This increases the chances that many people looked at the footage since it was recorded which would of course would tend to cover their tracks. However we don’t know if this is the case. If the mole just grabbed it recently that could mean trouble.

Still, track covering or not, our hero is living on the edge. I was once given internal video of an MSNBC town hall the day it was announced that MSNBC was moving to 30 Rock. I opted to not post the video but post a transcript because that made it impossible to tell whether I received video or someone just taking notes from the town hall.

So you prospective moles out there, pay attention. There is a right way and a wrong way to leak. Joe Muto did it the wrong way and look what happened. Today’s example is much better but isn’t immune to potential career blow back.

CNN Announces It’s Still Testing The Waters…

Posted in CNN on April 10, 2014 by icn2

Today CNN made a big deal about its new primetime lineup of AC360 at 8pm ET, tape at 9pm, and a new news show called CNN Tonight at 10pm. But what wasn’t emphasized is that this move shows CNN is still testing the waters to see what works. I’ll explain…

When you have a disparate group of unrelated taped shows airing every night five days a week you have no consistency. CNN has come up with the new slogan “Go There” which as slogans go isn’t very convincing since we don’t know where “there” is. Somewhere, I suppose..but “Go Somewhere” just doesn’t have the same oompf that “Go There” has. But like CNN’s new slogan, its 9pm lineup lacks cohesion. What will probably happen is some tape will do better than other tape and that tape will be emphasized and the tape that doesn’t give good enough ratings won’t be. It’s still an experiment for the network no matter how much it tries to emphasize the move as a new direction.

This isn’t the first time Zucker has done this. He did it at MSNBC back in 2004 during the Olympics when he killed off most of the network’s live and very underperforming primetime in favor of tape. That move worked to a point as the tape gave the network higher numbers at the cost of less overhead…a win-win from a certain point of view; the view that being live in prime isn’t necessarily as important as you think it is.

Ovbiously Zucker hopes a similar situation will happen here. Piers Morgan’s show was wildly inconsistent in the rating and it’s a pretty safe bet that whatever tape CNN airs at 9 should perform at a higher average. The open question is whether that average will be enough to move CNN out of 3rd place in non-breaking news cycles. I have my doubts that CNN can topple Maddow at that hour relying solely on tape.

Left unsaid is how the network will handle breaking news at that hour and how that breaking news will mess with the ability of the channel to establish those shows on a consistent basis. What does CNN do if it has to break tape in the middle of one of its 9pm shows to cover breaking news? Does it repeat the episode the following week since it couldn’t air the full episode on its scheduled air date? And Take a look at Crossfire the past few weeks. It hasn’t been on because of MH370 coverage. This does have the potential of frustrating viewers who want to tune into those shows as well as complicating the ability to establish consistent programming at that hour.

At 10pm we see still more CNN experimentation. Yes, they announced a new show. That’s not the experimentation. The experimentation is the rotating group of hosts CNN will use. I fully expect within six months to a year that the 10pm hour will be unified under a single host. Zucker obviously is not certain who to put there so he’s giving a select group of talent a chance to seize the hour for their own.

This does raise the question about the rumors that Bill Weir was hired away from ABC with a primetime show clause in his contract. If there was such a clause I would expect Weir to be one of the rotating hosts (setting aside the obvious follow up question of whether being a rotating host really satisfies that rumored primetime show clause or not). Actually I expected Weir to be in the mix regardless of a primetime clause or not since he hasn’t been doing much regular work on the channel since he arrived.

So, despite today’s emphasis of a new direction for CNN, the underlying truth is business as usual…CNN is still testing the waters in primetime.

CNN Primetime changes…

Posted in CNN on April 10, 2014 by icn2

CNN announced some changes to primetime. I will have a lot to say about this tonight…

CNN ANNOUNCES NEW PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

Mike Rowe, Lisa Ling, John Walsh Join Anthony Bourdain, Morgan Spurlock for CNN Original Series

Series and Films to Air at 9 PM, CNN Tonight to Air at 10 PM

CNN today announced a new primetime lineup that continues to build on the network’s strategy of offering both live, breaking news programming as well as quality, original series, CNN Films and in-house documentaries.

As part of the announcement, the network is bringing Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) back to series television, in a new program called Somebody’s Gotta Do It.  In addition, proven television personalities John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted) and Lisa Ling (Our America with Lisa Ling) will also join CNN, with their own new, original series. CNN will also premiere The Jesus Code, which will take viewers on a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible. And CNN announced that the ten-part original series The Sixties, from Playtone and acclaimed producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, will premiere in late May. 

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CNN Gets Dirty…

Posted in CNN on April 10, 2014 by icn2

CNN announced that Dirty Jobs guy Mike Rowe will be appearing in a new yet familiar series on the network…

MIKE ROWE BRINGS ORIGINAL SERIES TO CNN

Series To Launch this Fall

For more than a decade, Mike Rowe has been nationally known as the “dirtiest man on TV,” as host and the executive producer of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs (2005-2012).  He traveled to all 50 states and completed 300 different jobs, transforming cable television into a landscape of swamps, sewers, ice roads, coal mines, and oil derricks.  He initiated a hands–on way to pay tribute to a nation of unsung heroes, conclusively demonstrating that fun and hard work are two sides of the same coin and confirmed the value of delayed gratification, sacrifice, hard work, good humor and optimism.  He is now on a brand new mission and he will bring that mission to CNN beginning this fall.

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Network on Network Violence?

Posted in Al Jazeera, CNN on April 7, 2014 by icn2

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…

CNN’s News Judgement Goes Down a Black Hole…

Posted in CNN on April 4, 2014 by icn2

Ok, CNN you had your moment with the MH370 coverage. Time to dial it back. Time to stop the breaking news or Happening Now banner abuse that has for the moment surpassed the level of abuse that constitutes the Fox News Alert.

I defended you in the beginning because your coverage was stellar. Now I return to bury you because you forgot when to say when and when for this story occurred a week ago. Yet you are still doing special reports even though there’s really been nothing to report outside of a familiar theme; search coverage pattern moved, different resources thrown at search coverage, wash, rinse, repeat.

CNN’s coverage is now actually hurting its brand because it is turning itself into a laughing stock in the media. Black Holes and supernatural phenomena were just the tip of the iceberg. Martin Savidge is now permanently glued to his seat in the simulator. Hopefully he will be rescued by Canadian Mounties soon.

Pundit after pundit are appearing on CNN’s air to reveal…uh…nothing really since there’s been little to report on.

And now CNN’s website is getting into the act. A story on pictures of MH370 taken by plane spotters months ago? CNN, you aren’t just scraping the bottom of the barrel on this story…you’ve broken clean through the barrel and are well on your way to digging a hole to China.

Ok, sure…there are still real story angles to pursue and report on MH370. But nobody is filtering out the good from the bad…it’s covering everything no matter how silly. Apparently CNN’s news judgement has gone down Don Lemon’s black hole…

Case Not Proven…Court’s Adjourned…

Posted in CNN on April 1, 2014 by icn2

Business Insider’s Henry Blodget pens a mind blowingly silly article in support of Jeff Zucker’s hiring…

Given that the Malaysia plane disappeared three weeks ago, it always startles me to see that CNN is still covering nothing but the plane story, especially with so little new information to report.

But this, I am coming to understand, is why Jeff Zucker, CNN’s new boss, is so renowned for his programming acumen — and why he was such a great hire for the network.

CNN’s ratings have gone to the moon since Zucker decreed that the network cover nothing but “The Mystery Of Flight 370.”

CNN has apparently surmised — almost certainly correctly — that the plane story is much more interesting, mysterious, and terrifying to viewers than just about any other dime-a-dozen story CNN could be covering.

(snip)

The media snobs on Twitter hate CNN’s plane coverage. They hate it as much as they hated “The DaVinci Code,” “The Firm,” “Iron Man,” and other massively popular commercial successes that normal people love. They love to tweet about how appalled they are, and how embarrassing CNN’s plane obsession is.

But their snootiness only goes to show, again, that Mr. Zucker is exactly what CNN needed:

A boss who knows what normal CNN viewers want — and the boldness to withstand the critics and give it to them.

Hate to break it to ‘ya Henry but CNN would be going wall to wall on this story whether Jeff Zucker was hired or not. It’s what they do. Now, the way CNN is covering this story definitely has the fingerprints of Zucker on it but to argue Zucker was such a great hire simply because the network has gone overboard in covering this story is just plain dumb.

Alisyn Camerota to CNN…Eventually…

Posted in CNN on March 31, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive does another one of its FTVLive predictions…you know those predictions that are made so far in advance before contracts are even negotiated nobody remembers them when they actually come true…the people still alive who read it back in the day that is (<=== slight sarcasm [<=== not so slight sarcasm])…

But, FTVLive has learned FIRST and EXCLUSIVELY from CNN sources that Camerota will be soon headed to CNN.

“It’s still months away, but she is 100% going to end up on CNN,” our source tells FTVLive.

Many were shocked when Camerota announced that she was leaving Fox News after 16 years. She said at the time she would be “taking some time off before seeking out her next gig.”

She has already found the next gig and it’s at CNN.

Unless contracts have been negotiated and/or signed…she hasn’t found squat yet. Let’s not over-dramatize this. Obviously she has to sit out a non-compete clause…thus the delay in any move to anywhere. But if it is CNN, and I have no reason to doubt FTVLive, over-dramatization aside, on the central point of the story that this where she’s headed, I can think of two anchors who should be worried, one more-so than the other.

And Still More on CNN’s Flight Simulator…

Posted in CNN on March 28, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder writes about that pesky Canadian flight simulator and a “trapped” Martin Savidge…

CNN initially sought to rent a real 777 airplane for its coverage, but found it impossible. Individual airlines were also reluctant to make their simulators available. So CNN arranged time with the company uFly, from Mississauga, Ontario, near the Toronto airport, which has a simulator that is the same model of the plane lost in Asia.

Savidge, who had been vacationing in Australia when the plane went missing on March 8, was sent to Canada for one day on March 14 and returned home for the weekend. The response to his reports was so positive, CNN sent him back on March 17, and he’s been there since. Other media organizations have sought to use the simulator but CNN blocks them by keeping it booked (the company won’t say how much this is costing).

Not anywhere near what it would cost to rent a 777 or time in a fully functional flight simulator. As to the other networks not having access to it…you snooze, you lose.

Greg D’Alba Out At CNN?

Posted in CNN on March 24, 2014 by icn2

Page Six’s Richard Johnson reports that Greg D’Alba is going to leave the network…

Look out for a big defection at Turner Broadcasting/CNN: Greg D’Alba, head of CNN ad sales, is leaving the company after 28 years.

“He can’t take it anymore,” a source close to D’Alba told me. “He can’t stand all the infighting and the politics.”

After Jeff Zucker became president of CNN Worldwide last year, Turner chairman/CEO Phil Kent was replaced by John Martin. One of Kent’s last acts was to promote David Levy to president of Turner Broadcasting System.

And it seems some of the execs don’t like each other.

“Greg is an incredibly well-respected guy and has had great success over the years, but it’s been very hard since Zucker came,” said my source.

Inside CNN’s Flight Simulator…

Posted in CNN on March 21, 2014 by icn2

The Toronto Star’s Oakland Ross writes about CNN’s Flight Simulator…or should I say Simulator Lite?

The U.S. broadcaster began monopolizing the Canadian Boeing 777 simulator shortly after March 8 when the Malaysian plane veered off course on a flight that was supposed to take the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane’s present whereabouts remain a mystery.

Casado describes the machine as “the only open-to-the-public 777 simulator in the world.” That’s him in the pilot’s chair on the left-hand side of your TV screen, while Savidge speaks to the camera from the co-pilot’s spot on the right.

Ross goes on to explain something I had been wanting to know with increasing interest as the days of CNN’s use of the simulator kept on going and going…

The Mississauga machine is owned and operated by a company called uFly Simulator and provides a vivid experience, says Casado, but it is not a full-scale flight simulator — the kind used by airlines such as Air Canada to train pilots for actual flight.

“There’s a major difference,” says Casado. “This is a fixed-base simulator. It doesn’t move.”

In other words, it lacks the elaborate — and expensive — arrangement of hydraulic pistons and other machinery that enable official flight simulators to mimic almost perfectly the actual experience of flight.

“They are extremely expensive, $35 million apiece,” says Casado. “That’s a tenth the cost of a real airplane.”

By contrast, the Mississauga facility being used with such abandon by CNN cost somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 to build and is not certified by Boeing or by any aeronautical authority. It is mainly used as an entertainment device for children’s parties or business outings.

Thus clears the air on how CNN could afford to hog simulator time so much and not blow huge holes in its budget. A full flight simulator would rack up a massive bill for the network after all this time. But this particular simulator…while still racking up a bill in the thousands…is peanuts by comparison.

MH370 Overcoverage for Ratings? Well, duh…

Posted in CNN on March 19, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive got its hands on an internal CNN memo to staff about the MH370 coverage…or overcoverage. I am disappointed the site did not publish the full memo instead of just summarizing it…

In the note obtained by FTVLive, in tops off with Digital saying they are having “one of the best weeks in traffic.”

Then it gets into the top stories and talks about the missing plane:

“On TV: we are wall to wall with the plane mystery; this is a strategy we are confident and comfortable with” the coverage note to the staff says.

It goes on to say “when a major story happens (ala Boston Bombing, Oklahoma Tornados, George Zimmerman) we go all in”

The next line says “That is our vision and our strategy”

As for those in house question CNN’s over coverage of the missing plane, the next line in the coverage note says “We are not ignoring other stories because we have multiple distribution platforms.”

Some CNN Staffers say the network is ignoring other stories and doing it all in the name of ratings.

Of course it is in the name of ratings. Every time CNN goes all in, it is in the hopes (expectation?) of getting a ratings bump. This is not a new malady, nor is it a byproduct of Jeff Zucker running the show…though it does seem a tad more blatant about it now that Jeff Zucker is running the show (i.e. tape, tape, tape)…

Inside CNN’s (Temporary) MH370 Ratings Bump…

Posted in CNN on March 17, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about CNN’s frequently compelling but sometimes head scratching MH370 coverage and what it’s doing for the network’s ratings…

Another story of the moment, the crisis in Ukraine, has also demanded attention, and while CNN has covered developments there, the senior executive acknowledged newsroom decisions had made to emphasize the plane story over Ukraine coverage.

In this case, the executive said, the CNN president, Jeff Zucker, who has aggressively steered the network toward committing full resources — and airtime — to continuing stories of intense interest, did not issue a memo telling producers to go wall to wall on the plane story. “It was understood,” the CNN senior executive said.

“One way to define ourselves is to go all-in on stories of human drama,” the executive said. Another way is to find creative ways to illustrate the story, which accounted for the heavy use of the flight simulator, the theme song, and the “visual room” map.

The likelihood is that CNN will feature the story aggressively until the mystery has loosened its grip on the public. In the past, the network has seen these ratings surges subside as interest in the events faded, with no residual impact on CNN’s regular ratings.

Usually by this point in a story that doesn’t offer a lot of new revelations in a rapid fire fashion, I burn out because I can’t take any more. Not this time. Maybe it’s a combination of the mystery involved and the comparatively unique set of circumstances that surround it.

Whatever it is, I’m hooked…and I’m hooked on CNN as they have managed to keep the story, as slothily incremental as it has been unfolding, going…not by advancing the story much (how can you advance something that isn’t advancing much) but by advancing our understanding of the story in ways other networks either hadn’t or couldn’t. Yes, there have been times when CNN has tried my patience by taking the story in directions that neither make sense nor work. But their sucess/failure rate has been unusually high for an industry that normally has run out of angles by this point.

But this novelty is not exclusively the realm of CNN. Today, on Ronan Farrow Daily the segment with Lester Holt and his flight simulator which got noted by Mediaite. But the most interesting aspect of this on its face rather gratuitous display, something Mediaite failed to point out, was the reason why investigators might be interested in the simulator. If it had been used to work our flight planning scenarios that directly tied in with what happened with MH370, there would be a record of that in the software’s logs…unless they got deleted of course.

It is things like Holt’s flight simulator demonstration and Martin Savidge’s hours in a flight simulator in segments that span commercial breaks where cable news is really shining because they help to explain why the story is unfolding the way it is.

Ahhh…Humor….AR! AR! AR! AR!

Posted in CNN on March 17, 2014 by icn2

(mega bonus points if you can I.D. the source of the title)

The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz chimes in with some satire at CNN’s expense…

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—CNN apologized to its viewers today for briefly airing a story on Sunday that had nothing to do with the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

The story, which caused thousands of viewers to contact the network in anger, had something to do with Crimea, Ukraine, and Russia.

In the official apology, CNN chief Jeff Zucker wrote, “On Sunday, we briefly cut away from our nonstop coverage of Flight 370 to talk about something else. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: we messed up. CNN regrets the error and promises our viewers that it won’t happen again.”

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