Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac Complicates RNC Coverage for CNN

How the Cable Network Handled Two Big News Stories

I was initially surprised when I looked at Fox News Channel's program guide for the night.  My cable provider's guide had the usual programming listed: O'Reilly at eight o'clock, Hannity at nine.  But of course they were broadcasting the Republican National Convention.  This is Fox News we're talking about.  My conclusion to why this cable news channel didn't schedule one large block of programming titled "Republican National Convention" is because it wasn't necessary.  Fox News doesn't need to attract an audience for the Republican convention.  They already have the target audience tuning in from 8-11 on a daily basis.  Their loyal viewers were going to tune in no matter what. 

On the contrary, MSNBC and CNN need to attract viewers who might not otherwise watch this political event.  Well, MSNBC is going to have less of a problem bringing in liberal viewers that will no doubt actively "hate watch" the RNC all week.  But CNN is the one cable news channel that tries to play it neutral (even though they do lean left).  They get equally excited for both the RNC and (next week's) DNC.  Yet when the time came, CNN couldn't help but show Anderson Cooper standing out in the wind and rain instead of showing most of Tuesday night's speakers.

It was an unfortunate coincidence that Hurricane Isaac was making landfall just as the convention coverage was beginning.  CNN did break into the middle of Nikki Haley's speech after ten o'clock.  Of course, Ann Romney was scheduled to begin speaking at that time.  And CNN wasn't going to miss the wife's speech.  However, the first cable news network missed a speech given by John Kasich, the charismatic governor from Ohio.  It also ignored Rick Santorum even though the news channel spent all that time in the spring trying to convince its viewers that Santorum had a real shot at grabbing the GOP nomination.

It's true that Hurricane Isaac was the primary reason why CNN didn't bother with these speeches.  It's also true that a hurricane definitely warrants extensive news coverage.  However, the real stories that come out of hurricanes usually don't present themselves until after the storm have passed.  No offense to those who are getting hit by Isaac, but viewers don't actually learn anything new by watching idiotic news reporters stand out in the storm.  Torrential rains and powerful winds are brought on by a hurricane every time.  That is not "BREAKING NEWS." Furthermore, a reporter's microphone can get waterlogged or the storm interferes with the feed.  So then BREAKING NEWS ends up trying to repair something that shouldn't be out in those conditions to begin with.  Unfortunately--as mentioned above--when Anderson asks to stand out in a wrenching storm, CNN puts him out in that storm.

A category one hurricane wasn't the only thing that prevented CNN from actually airing the RNC.  Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett discussed what was ahead while there were speeches going on behind them (CNN likes to talk about what's next instead of what's happening).  This is the network that promoted this event the most, but when the time comes, doesn't seem too eager to present it to its viewers.  Why then have a five hour block of "Republican National Convention" if they you're only going to show a little over two hours?  The answer: they're CNN.  They wouldn't be CNN if they didn't do something nonsensical.

Hey, at least there weren't any holograms.  Not yet anyway. 

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