Poor CNN. The network is trying to be everything to everyone and, as is usually the case with such efforts, is pleasing no one. Ratings are in the toilet and in every corner — from the plush offices of Vanity Fair, to the hallowed halls of NYU, to the ash-covered continent — one hears the jarring thumps of unsolicited advice.
It’s enough to make an executive producer drink more heavily than he already does.
New York Magazine writer Michael Hirschorn recently wrote the whole enterprise off (take that, Ted), commenting that CNN has had a relatively long run: two generations “to go from vanguard to rearguard.” Compare that, Hirschorn says, to the fact that newer entrants like Yahoo! and AOL probably will survive only one generation, despire their high-profile CEOs.
Quick, bring up the Dylan soundtrack going to commercial, because The Times, They Are a-Changin.’
CNN is simply today’s most colorful pinata, whacked repeatedly by the many challenges swirling around media, news, content creation and content consumption in this wildly disintermediated, information rich, chaotic environment. The issues CNN grapples with affect media and brands alike. I’ll leave the CNN programming suggestions to the likes of Cohen, Jarvis and Rosen, but in this environment, a communications strategy that addresses the following issues is critical for everyone:
Bash CNN all you like – and they are eminently bashable for their current state of affairs – but once you’re finished mocking or reprogramming them, it’s time to take a look at yourself.
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