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The missing plane that saved CNN
Maclean's ^ | MARCH 21, 2014 | Jaime Weinman

Posted on 03/22/2014 6:46:14 AM PDT by rickmichaels

You may have noticed a certain theme in recent coverage on the 24-hour news channels… a certain missing airplane and speculation on where it might be. Malaysia’s Flight 370 has been the big story on cable news recently, but nowhere has it been bigger than on CNN. Despite the almost complete lack of information about what happened, CNN made it a semi-permanent story, pre-empting many shows for Flight 370 coverage—mostly consisting of speculation, since there were hardly any facts to go on. By the time the network’s Don Lemon was speculating that the plane might have disappeared into a black hole or was the victim of something “supernatural,” you might have been forgiven for wondering if some kind of craziness was in the air at CNN.

Well, if CNN’s crazy, it’s crazy like a 24-hour fox. Because the tragedy of the lost jetliner has been a joyous occasion for the network, whose ratings have improved dramatically thanks to the story. Bill Carter of the New York Times notes that CNN’s numbers have gone up so dramatically that they’ve actually beaten Fox News a few times during prime time. Three times last week, Anderson Cooper’s 8 p.m. show beat out Fox’s top star, Bill O’Reilly, among viewers aged 25 to 54, the demographic that advertisers pay a premium for on news channels. A senior CNN executive, who may or may not be CNN head Jeff Zucker (the source asked not to be identified, but Zucker is a familiar Carter source from back when he was running NBC), gleefully called it “a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse,” and it seems to be virtually the only kind of story that can make people change the channel to CNN en masse.

CNN’s ratings problems have long been a familiar story: continually crushed by the conservative juggernaut Fox News, it’s also sometimes lost ground to MSNBC and its crop of liberal pundits. CNN has gone through many shows and hosts trying to fix its viewership problems, and nothing has worked. Most recently, CNN canceled its prime-time interview show Piers Morgan Live, a disastrous attempt to make an American news star out of British host tainted by the UK’s phone-hacking scandal. Nothing that has been tried so far by Zucker, or his predecessor, has been able to turn around CNN’s serious disadvantage when it comes to nightly and daily pundit shows.

But when a big round-the-clock news story breaks, then CNN roars to life like the Godzilla of news. This may be the biggest ratings bump CNN has recently gotten from a major story, but it isn’t the first. Last year, the network was widely mocked for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, and particularly for its false assertion that a suspect had been taken into custody. But it didn’t matter that CNN wasn’t doing the most accurate reporting on the story: its ratings increased by 194 per cent during the coverage of the bombing, compared to a 48 per cent jump for Fox (though that still left Fox in the lead). On a slow news day, people wouldn’t turn on CNN if you paid them—but if a real 24-hour story is happening, those same people all rush to see what CNN is saying.

What can account for this split personality on CNN’s part, between the successful purveyor of big ongoing stories and the brutally unsuccessful network that operates on all the other days of the year? The clue might be in something veteran media analyst Brad Adgate said to Reuters last year: “CNN, despite its ratings woes, is still a destination network for the light and casual news viewers. They have been around longer than anyone else.” The people who follow something like the Flight 370 story may, in many cases, be people who don’t usually watch 24-hour news. But when a story breaks that they’re interested in following all day and all night, CNN is still the place they instinctively go. It has the brand name left over from the Gulf War in the ’90s; it has the resources for doing this kind of saturation coverage. CNN is the first network that comes to mind for this type of story.

But when there isn’t a story this juicy, with this kind of crossover appeal to people who aren’t news junkies, then CNN is lost. It’s on these other days that Fox News really shines. Fox News is built not around news stories but around punditry, and its selection of news often consists of taking an item that isn’t that interesting in itself and funnelling it through the outrage of their pundits and panels. If it’s a slow news day, the rage on Fox News or the policy-wonk nerdiness on MSNBC will make it seem like something outrageous and important is always happening. CNN, with a poor track record hiring pundits and its desire to avoid a partisan slant in its punditry, is out in the cold when it comes to firing up the 365-day-a-year news addicts.

That means CNN’s year-round ratings problem may never be solved, unless Zucker aggressively changes its approach and its lineup of news anchors. Failing that, the network can only hope and pray for something like Malaysia Flight 370 to last as long as possible. But everything ends. The appearance of some leads on possible debris from the plane has already begun to dampen CNN’s coverage; now that it seems more like a conventional plane crash rather than a supernatural mystery, we’re already seeing the reporters devote slightly more time to Ukraine and other such unimportant matters. And when CNN has to bid a reluctant farewell to the plane story, it’ll go back to being the weak link in the 24-hour news chain—until another crossover story breaks, and the sometimes viewers all come running back to CNN again.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: cnn; iran; malaysia; mh370; waronterror
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1 posted on 03/22/2014 6:46:14 AM PDT by rickmichaels
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To: rickmichaels

Fox has been sleeping, for this story.

I hate CNN, but have been watching them.

Bigtime.


2 posted on 03/22/2014 6:48:24 AM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network ( http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html#2013)
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To: rickmichaels

CNN does seem to cover international news better than anyone else but in this case they sound like a reality TV show.


3 posted on 03/22/2014 6:49:26 AM PDT by McGruff (They say the first casualty of war is truth)
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To: rickmichaels

” and its desire to avoid a partisan slant in its punditry, is out in the cold when it comes to firing up the 365-day-a-year news addicts.”

Such bull feces ....


4 posted on 03/22/2014 6:49:41 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: McGruff

5 posted on 03/22/2014 6:50:44 AM PDT by RummyChick
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To: rickmichaels

The Zombie Plane theory channel?
Plane full of dead crew and passengers flying south, and south and south until the autopilot finally tries to do a water landing?


6 posted on 03/22/2014 6:52:33 AM PDT by Spartan302
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To: rickmichaels

I seldom watch BOR, but as channel fliping last night, I kept catching bits of his show. All of them were about CNN coverage of the missing jet. A show about another channel’s coverage. I guess we will now get a “news” channel reporting about FOX coverage of CNN....and so it goes....

I still hold to the theory that the jet flew for a half hour to gain altitude, glided for an hour, over and over, and is in a wheat field in Kansas.


7 posted on 03/22/2014 6:55:13 AM PDT by Gadsden1st
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To: rickmichaels
It might be because FOX like CNN is covering this story ad nauseam and FOX viewers are simply turning to other channels that are not going over the same ground over and over and over again.

That channel BTW is not CNN.

Gak!

I wish they would get off this hobby horse. There is other news in the world.

8 posted on 03/22/2014 6:56:21 AM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Proud Infidel, Gun Nut, Religious Fanatic and Freedom Fiend)
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To: RummyChick

9 posted on 03/22/2014 7:00:39 AM PDT by McGruff (They say the first casualty of war is truth)
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To: rickmichaels


10 posted on 03/22/2014 7:03:33 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (WoT News: Rantburg.com)
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To: Gadsden1st

:: A show about another channel’s coverage ::

And where were you when all the news outlets were breathlessly covering the “Katie Couric will be sitting in Walter Cronkites chair” soap opera?

I assume, like me, you were trying desperately to hold back the desire to violently wretch your stomach contents. (AKA, we are on the same page, bruh!)


11 posted on 03/22/2014 7:07:05 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel
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To: rickmichaels
Fox News ... selection of news often consists of taking an item that isn’t that interesting in itself and funnelling it through the outrage of their pundits and panels. If it’s a slow news day, the rage on Fox News or the policy-wonk nerdiness on MSNBC (edit to add: the problem at MSNBC is that they are just too darned smart)

Yup. No bias here.
12 posted on 03/22/2014 7:21:32 AM PDT by jjsheridan5
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To: rickmichaels

The story is over now. The plane will never be found. It will join other air legends like DB Cooper.


13 posted on 03/22/2014 7:29:50 AM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
For all its faults, CNN's coverage of breaking news stories -- especially international ones -- puts its competitors to shame.

Fox is the worst of the bunch, and they would do well to simply ignore stories like this because they usually make fools of themselves when they try to cover them. The Fox News coverage of Hurricane Katrina was so awful that I was (almost) embarrassed for them.

14 posted on 03/22/2014 7:30:48 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
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To: jjsheridan5

Yeah .... You saw that bias as well.

MSNBC has “policy wonks” but Fox has “hatred”.

Do the ABCNNBCBS national news media do anything but talk to themselves to reinforce their own biases?


15 posted on 03/22/2014 7:35:16 AM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but socialists' ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Star Traveler

That or, somebody knows, but they won’t tell.


16 posted on 03/22/2014 7:35:31 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: rickmichaels
Kudos CNN.

Now, about those missing Obama college records....

17 posted on 03/22/2014 7:36:51 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: rickmichaels

Blowhard O’Blowhard refused to cover the story till he got beaten in the ratings by CNN and is now covering the story. ROFL. CNN keeps repeating the same themes and is boring. All the CNN experts have an axe to grind.


18 posted on 03/22/2014 7:37:44 AM PDT by VRWC For Truth (Roberts has perverted the Constitution)
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear
I wish they would get off this hobby horse. There is other news in the world.

Even networks such as Fox sometimes do this sort of thing. Back in the 1990's, the networks were captivated by the story of a babysitter accused of killing a child in her care--something that should have only been of interest to local media. Yet the story was covered night after night--even on Fox.

A few years later, the media went gaga over the death of an actress--Nicole something or other. I was soon changing the channel whenever that story came up.

19 posted on 03/22/2014 7:39:23 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: rickmichaels
Some credit should be given to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Fox News for giving CNN so much free advertising about how they are covering this story.

A lot of people may be tuning in just to see how nutty they get over there.

Not me, of course.

20 posted on 03/22/2014 7:40:04 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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