Monday, November 09, 2009

CNN's Fall Disturbing...but that is not News?

The audience reports released a few weeks ago contained some interesting and, for me, disturbing trends. I was especially interested in the report that placed CNN as the fourth leading source of news on cable. That’s right, the same CNN that wrote the book on the 24 hour news service, the same CNN that garnered laughs and then dread from the broadcast networks news operations was behind Fox News, MSNBC and even CNN’s own progeny, Headline News in audiences.

While I really couldn’t care less who is first and who is second, I do care about the reasons many media pundits have given for CNN’s fall from the top spot. It seems that many feel CNN failed to take on enough of a “point of view” or “bias” in their news reporting.

Few would argue that Fox News and MSNBC have embraced a less than objective bent. Fox News leaning toward the Right and MSNBC toward the Left. While point of view and opinion and the freedom to express both are key to our democratic process, neither have any place in reporting the news of the day. It comes down to the difference between the Editorial or Opinion pages in print publications and the hard news sections.

I, for one, like the news given to me as a series of facts. Facts that have been researched, confirmed and presented in straight forward simple sentences. I can form my own opinion. For sure there is a place for opinion and debate but it is not and should not be presented as news.

Another trend in news reporting both in the cable and broadcast arena is the increase in soft news. Does the winner of American Idol or Who Wants To Be a Millionaire really belong in the same newscast as a report on the number of brave solders who lost their lives in some distant land?

There is nothing wrong with entertainment. There is nothing wrong with expressing opinions. We need both, but we also need our news reporting to be neither entertainment nor opinion.

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