CNN is Dead, Long Live CNN…

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter moves the needle on the replacement for Jim Walton story…

Several news executives close to Mr. Zucker said this week that they believed he had been chosen to run CNN, and they expected the appointment to be announced soon. People close to the Time Warner chief executive, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, also identified Mr. Zucker. A Time Warner spokesman declined to comment.

Stelter then offers up this…

In considering candidates to run one of the world’s best-known, but beleaguered, news organizations, Mr. Bewkes and his deputy Phil Kent have also been considering their own legacies. They are cautious about not undermining CNN’s journalistic heart and soul, even as they strive to resuscitate the channel’s prime-time lineup, according to people who have met with them about the search. That means the channel’s programming will remain nonpartisan in nature.

“They want someone who has programming and management and cable expertise; someone who can be credible to the staff and to the business community,” one person said. “They know that this is a pretty tall order.”

Well, then why Zucker? Stelter then makes an argument…

Mr. Zucker could check off all those boxes. As a young NBC News producer, he helped start what became a 16-year winning streak for the “Today” show. He had mixed results as he moved up the rungs of NBC, but he can point to cable programming successes even as the NBC broadcast network struggled.

The problem I have with this line of reasoning, as I’ve mentioned before, is that Zucker’s cable news track record shows a history of brand dilution in order to boost ratings with a “whatever gets eyeballs” approach. For MSNBC that meant gutting news almost completely and airing non-sequitur crime docs. For The Weather Channel it meant more reality TV and movies. CNBC lost its primetime identity of live programming in favor of boring tape.

For Zucker to succeed at CNN and keep CNN true to its roots and not succumb to “undermining CNN’s journalistic heart and soul” it means Zucker would have to adapt himself to the CNN legacy and not do what he did to NBCU’s cable news properties. Can he do that? Sure. Will he do that? I’m highly skeptical. Until I see it actually happen…until I see Zucker build on CNN’s strengths without destroying its news brand, I will continue to believe that a Zucker led CNN Worldwide could very well mean the death of the network as it has been known for 30 plus years. For CNN’s sake I hope I’m wrong…


9 Responses to “CNN is Dead, Long Live CNN…”

  1. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    I found the Kiran Chetry quote to be interesting (Kiran Chetry, a CNN morning anchor from 2007 to 2011, said her time there was like being on a news treadmill: “We were running, sweating, doing the work, but never getting anywhere ratings-wise,” she said.)

    ….I bet that’s the way a lot of on/off-air CNN’ers feel

  2. Boy, the way Glen Miller played.
    Songs that made the Hit Parade.
    Guys like us, we had it made.
    Those were the days!

  3. bushleaguer Says:

    As unfortunate as I think it would be, perhaps it is time for CNN to do some re-branding if ratings are the end. 30 years ago the internet was what it is today…..people were still getting their news from TV and the newspaper. I’m not saying by any means that Zucker is the answer but if CNN wants ratings then they are going to have to adapt to the times.

  4. bushleaguer Says:

    ^ the internet wasn’t what it is today

  5. tinafromtampa Says:

    Its kind of funny that you think CNN “has a news brand” – you need to be a little more honest – CNN gave up news a year or so ago when it went into the gutter to compete with MSNBC. There is no news at CNN anymore; Wolfe, Randy Andy and the rest of them threw their professionalism under the bus long ago. For you to continue to think that CNN is in the middle is laughable. Be honest, CNN has no ratings because it tired to out left MSNBC and lost. It isn’t honest reporting by any stretch and to pretend it is is just plain silly.

  6. For you to argue that “there is no news at CNN anymore” suggests you really aren’t watching CNN much. Is there as much news as there used to be? No and I’ve said as much before. But that isn’t your argument.

  7. Zucker fits in with the direction CNN is going, if the hiring of Anthony Bourdain is any indication. Brand dilution.

  8. It might be interesting to evaluate the state of the CNN brand even before Zucker arrives, as the main station soon begins to broadcast Bourdain’s show, while CNN International airs and reairs gov’t sponsored canned shows more often than news bulletins and CNNE has a mere six hours of news shows on weekdays and two on weekends going the HLN way with a mix of showbiz, lifestyle and pretaped programmes.

  9. Well, the frequency of government sponsored canned shows might be a slight exaggeration, but I think you will get my point.

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