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May 8, 2022 1:30 pm  #1

Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

An interesting piece about the nature of news on U.S. cable these days. Will the audience watch an actual balanced presentation or do they just want to hear what they already believe? A former NBC & ABC veteran weighs in on the future of CNN - and if it has one. 

Does America really want real news on cable?



May 8, 2022 6:41 pm  #2

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

Never one to shy away from giving out my opinion, I will chime in.

The best, and by far most popular national news in the US overall is still on the main television networks, CBS, NBC and ABC.  Fox doesn't have an evening national news cast. 

CNN and Fox news channels are very polarized and treat politics and their networks like sports teams.  Both focus a lot in prime time on opinion and debate programming and don't really have that much news unless there is an emergency or breaking news. Constant opinion programming offered on CNN, FOX and MSNBC supposedly is good for ratings, but who exactly are you attracting? 

I am wondering if you are mostly attracting people that tend to wallow in the negative, or are looking for news and opinion that they can agree with.  Others might be looking for confirmation of their views. Still others want to be upset and angry and look for hosts and shows that will work them up into a lather.  

Fox News Network is always going on and on about their "great" ratings and how they cream CNN.  Hey Fox, your ratings just ok, but much better right now than CNN and MSNBC. 

Take a look at the combined ratings of the "mainstream media" evening newscasts on CBS, NBC and ABC.  First quarter of 2022 combined they average 22.1 million viewers per night an increase of 8% from the fourth quarter 2021, but down from a year ago.  ABC is the current leader with 8.8 million viewers at 6:30.  And both CTV and Global news in Canada for years have shown up in the top 20 and even top 5 and proportionally have much higher ratings than the US big three. 

In prime time Fox averages 2.86 million viewers with Tucker Carlson as their top show with an average of 3.82 million viewers. Overall Fox is up in ratings and both CNN and MSNBC are tanking.  

However the 24 hour news networks have nothing that come close to the ratings that 60 Minutes has on CBS. Again the supposed mainstream media comes out on top. And the Sunday morning news shows on CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX is still appointment viewing for many. 

So I think there is evidence that most Americans are looking for more balanced and fair news coverage.  The problem is that the news networks have 24 hours to fill everyday.  I am not sure that coverage of the news can do this.  Although our own CP24 and two national news channels do and seem to manage alright, as does BBC World.    

Here is some rating info for the news networks and evening US newscasts from TVNewser and Deadline.,years%20ago%20(Q1%202018).



May 10, 2022 3:33 am  #3

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

There is absolutely an appetite for actual news. Any time there’s hard news happening CNN’s ratings go through the roof and daily news podcasts are some of the most popular podcasts out there.
The problem is CNN has managed to assemble a collection of the least likeable people in TV news and if they don’t add real journalists to their prime time schedule to get them through the days and weeks where there isn’t a huge national emergency, hard news won’t save them. Don Lemon trying to present facts in a compelling way won’t work.  He lacks charisma and doesn’t seem that smart.

Last edited by Tomas Barlow (May 10, 2022 3:35 am)


May 10, 2022 5:31 pm  #4

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

Watching CNN/FOX is like watching tag team wrestling. Every three hours they tag up and change the talking heads, but the heel stays the same. Because of the nature of the 24 hour news cycle and it's penchant/need for  drama/confrontation, neither could survive as a straight up news service. You'd also need an audience that could at least spell cat without spotting them the c and the t. . 


May 11, 2022 1:58 am  #5

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

There's a very good reason why the network newscasts are among the most watched on TV... 'cause there's nothing else.  

Broadcast is getting creamed by streaming.  Even a platform like Paramount+ has more active subscribers than most prime time network shows get per night.  And if you condensed Fox and CNN's prime time into a half hour, they'd get a lot more viewers than CBS, ABC and NBC combined.  CBS has this little trick of renaming the Friday edition of the Evening News (which tends to get much lower numbers than the rest of the week) so it's not included in their weekday average.  

Having worked there for 2 decades, I can tell you: most American tv viewers don't care for 'real news' or 'balanced coverage'.  They want an echo chamber, whether they know it or not.  That's why cable news rules. 


May 12, 2022 10:29 am  #6

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

I liked CNN in the early days when they had actual newscasts. Shows with editorial content - like "Crossfire" - were kept separate from news programming. They also had an excellent late-night sportscast with Nick Charles and Jim Huber (later Fred Hickman).And then there was BN cable...

"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram

May 12, 2022 10:46 am  #7

Re: Veteran Newsman Wonders If CNN Can Win Audiences With Actual News?

And let's not forget their pioneering work during the first Gulf War. (Who can forget those green screens, the sounds of explosions over Baghdad and the breathless descriptions from Bernard Shaw, holed up in a hotel room by a nearby window and the new technology that made it possible to bypass the phone lines?)

That's when they were a serious news network and proved their worth. Even the major networks were using some of their stuff, which at the time was a very impressive accomplishment for a relative newcomer once derided by competitors as "Chicken Noodle News." 

"We were the only journalists able to report. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was a global coup. News organizations around the world carried CNN’s live reporting of the first night of the Gulf War I; that night made television history and catapulted CNN into permanent news prominence. From that moment on, live news coverage is what audiences demanded and news organizations strived to achieve."

That's where they made their bones. How sad what it's become since. And no, I'm no fan of Fox News, either.

From 2016: Operation Desert Storm: 25 years on

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