With CNN continuing to lose ground in the cable news ratings race, observers are wondering whether the pioneering channel can survive against its more partisan and opinionated rivals, MSNBC and Fox News. In 2004, CNN decided to focus more on objective reporting and less on left-right punditry after comedian Jon Stewart famously accused "Crossfire" hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson of "hurting America" with their talking-point bickering. But the recent dismal numbers — "Anderson Cooper 360" and "Larry King" both saw their ratings drop by more than 40 percent — raise the question: Do CNN's struggle signal the end of "objective" news programming?
People no longer trust objectivity: Objective journalism has "failed," says NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen on PressThink, "not because audiences want opinion rather than news, but because the Voice of God isn’t as convincing as it once was." If that's true, CNN can't avoid adding opinion to their news reporting if they hope to rebound from their ratings slump.
"What CNN should do with itself in prime-time"
News must be entertaining: The problem isn't the non-partisanship of CNN's news reporting, says Newser.com founder Michael Wolff in an interview with Politico. It's that their anchors are boring. In addition to making their news "more efficient," CNN should hire "more entertaining" media personalities with "stronger voices" — "not necessarily ideological voices, but more unique and identifiable ones."
"How to fix CNN"
CNN must change its whole format: It's true, says Ross Douthat in The New York Times, the "disinterested anchorman pose" worked in the 30-minute nightly news format. It doesn't, however, work "across hours and hours of prime time." So if CNN wants to regain ground, they should develop into "a cable news network devoted to actual debate" rather than "red-faced shouting" matches. It'd be a big change, but "when you're losing to re-runs, you've got nothing to lose."
"Can CNN be saved?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- The lessons of Japan's latest recession
Subscribe to the Week