Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doing Less With Less At CNN, HLN, And TBS

For nineteen years working adjacent the Five Points MARTA station in downtown Atlanta, if I looked out my office window the CNN Center filled the view. Many journalists thought it was folly for Ted Turner to think a cable news network had any chance of survival in the world of television news. Ted proved them wrong beginning in 1980. By the time he moved on CNN was an international sensation. For a decade it had the most comprehensive - best designed as well -  news web page on the Internet. Fox News didn't appear until the mid-80's and CNN went essentially unchallenged until it began to openly embrace a more liberal political posture. By the late-90's their superb web page was reduced to a rather colorless, bland layout and by 2002, both CNN and HLN had lost the ratings battle to Fox News. Turner's brilliant "vision" has never recovered. 

Today's news about 550 buyouts and additional layoffs, mostly for CNN and HLN personnel, saddens me. At the same time, I did have something to say in this blog about the situation at TBS as early as 2009:

...First, either the Associated Press writer, David Bauder, apparently doesn't watch news broadcasts on Fox News or he can't recognize news from opinion. And second, CNN U.S. president Jon Klein is deluding himself if he thinks CNN is the "real news network." There was a time, years ago, when CNN did "read the news," but those days are long gone. CNN has been a bastion of liberal journalism for years now, and that's fine as long as people, including management, acknowledge it. On the other hand, Fox News seems perfectly comfortable with their center right news and conservative opinion. If CNN's management wants to operate under a delusion, then they're suffering from Sulzberger [myopia], the illness that is sinking The New York Times.
I feel for CNN. Fifteen years ago, they had the most comprehensive, useful, and timely news page on the Internet. Today, that page is a shell of its former self. Their cable news is struggling. Maybe it's time for that madman maverick, Ted Turner, to rescue his baby. At least he'd bring humor along with his delusions. Best of all, he wouldn't mind admitting he's a far lefty.

I doubt if Ted will come to the rescue in this age of niche journalism. He's likely having too much fun whatever he's up to these days. That leaves us and the stockholders looking to current management and its ability to adjust to the pendulum shifts in opinions and beliefs taking place in a rapidly changing national political environment. 

Photo: PBS.org

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