Thursday, August 24, 2006

Open Letter to CNN

Dear CNN,

For a very long time, I've watched and enjoyed you. I've been with you since the days when Bernie Shaw was Bernard. I used to keep the TV on in the background, tuned to CNN, so that I could keep track of what you were reporting.

I have to say, I can't do that anymore. I've tried. I would say that 'it's not you, it's me,' but let's be honest, it's you. You've steadily gotten worse and worse in your reporting and choice of stories to air, so that now it seems that I can tell what isn't newsworthy simply by flipping to CNN and seeing what you are talking about.

I've tried different ways of telling you what I feel has gone wrong, but you haven't changed your ways, you continue to deteriorate. However, I will try one more time to help out. I do this not out of a generous nature, not out of compassion or high minded ideals, but because I want a news channel, and I'm just not getting it.

Therefore, I present a few (by no means comprehensive) bullet points that might help you out.

  • Popularity does not equal news.
    • If you absolutely must, make a 15 or 30 minute side show about all the actors and their freakshow lives, but there is no reason whatsoever to announce what award they've won or who they're sleeping with as news. It's not. It's gossip and other channels do it already, better.
  • Lay off the criminal cases
    • Fire Nancy Grace. Do not hire a replacement
    • 99% of all criminal cases are not news. The only real news-worthy cases are the ones that reinterpreting laws in ways that are important to understand
    • If you must, announce verdicts in high-profile cases, but there is no need whatsoever to send out a team of reporters to find out what the man of the street thinks about Martha Stewart or Kobe Bryant and his wife. It's not news. It's barely even gossip.
  • Stop chasing FOX
    • Fire Glen Beck. Do not hire a replacement.
    • You can't beat them at their game. They've got way more flag graphics and over-inflated blowhard egomaniacs.
  • Start doing investigative reporting
    • Follow the money. Remember that? It's not just from a good movie.
  • Cover international news besides wars
    • By all means cover wars - but if you are going to cover wars, cover the ones involving brown people, too.
    • Let Americans know about the world around them. News is also education.
  • An argument doesn't have two sides.
    • sometimes there is no argument.
    • When a person presents a specious argument call them on it. Ask hard questions. When someone starts spouting talking points, call them on it. Don't allow people to use your shows simply as a venue to publish their daily hot phrases. Don't worry about not getting invited to the next press conference
    • Sometimes the argument has more than two sides. If everything is dumbed down to a right-wing and left-wing position, the original issue gets mangled beyond recognition.
  • Don't be afraid of trying to explain complex things.
    • Take your time and explain them as best as you can. Then do it again in a different way. There are important yet complex ideas that are worth the time.
Thank you for your time and attention, CNN. I will drop in occasionally to see how things are going, but I've got great hopes for my next big move. See, I'm moving somewhere where there's a bigger market, and if there are other options out there, you don't stand a chance.



undine said...

I hope you send it. Really. I've been hearing this same argument from the family member who most often watches CNN. It'd be a public service.

jayfish said...

hehe, it's like you've thought about it or something...

John said...

Well put.

sheepish said...

All of this is a long-winded way of saying, "Stop being so Larry King and Aaron Brown."

(Added note: screw yourself, Blogger Beta)

Overread said...

Oh, man, Sheepish - I can't believe that I ran a CNN rant and didn't give full bile to Larry King. I don't think there is anything that gets me changing channels quicker than him. I guess it wasn't so bad when he was just one hour a week or so, but now, not only has the entire network turned Kingish, but his show seems to run more often than Law and Order.