Anyone who knows me has probably heard my rants about misinformation in the digital age. Whether it’s the President of the United States using false allegations of voter fraud to attempt to win the U.S. election or some dude telling random people that MyPillows are stuffed with used aprons from Coronavirus victims, all of the above tend to irritate me.
I try to avoid conspiracy theories as much as I can since publicizing them tends to lead more people to believe them, even people arguing against them.
What I never understood was this summer’s Wayfair child-trafficking conspiracy (which everyone has stopped thinking about apparently). Some random guy on the internet apparently thought that a bookshelf’s high price on Wayfair somehow equated to the company selling children online, publicly, through their official website.
I’m not even going to dive in on that subject, but it uncovers a rather unsettling truth: people would rather believe Joe from Twitter than any journalist ever.
Cable news is the key identifier on this story.
In 1980, CNN was founded over the idea that news should be 24/7. Initially, people laughed at the concept. Like, “the news? all the time? why?” Soon enough, the 24/7 news cycle took off. Fox News was founded in the late-1990s due to a lack of any conservative programming. Since then, and increasingly as of late, cable news outlets (like CNN, Fox, MSNBC) have all subjected themselves to gross sensationalism.
When is the last time you turned on CNN and didn’t see a “Breaking News” headline? I’d be willing to pay out $100 that says you didn’t.
Over the last decade (and probably more), CNN has gained the worst reputation from conservatives, some even calling them the “Clinton News Network.” Democrats will tell you a different story and say Fox News is the worst.
Alternate headline: they both suck.
I would argue that the only difference between CNN and Fox News is that Fox is extremely biased. The actual definition of bias, not mentioning the overuse of the word (and mostly misuse).
CNN, Fox, and MSNBC all have their issues. There was the time that Fox interviewed Reza Aslan — a historian who has a phD in four different religions, who happens to be Muslim — about Reza’s book, Jesus of Nazareth. Instead of asking questions about the book, the interviewer quoted several other critics of the book and questioned why, despite his faith, he had the right to publish the book.
In 2015, MSNBC showed live footage from inside the San Bernardino shooter’s home, which included multiple shots and uncensored private information including addresses, phone numbers, and ID cards of people the shooter knew. This was a journalistic abomination.
During the 2017 Presidential Correspondents’ Dinner, comedian and former Daily Show correspondent called out CNN for “going to DEFCON 1” for Trump’s golf outings and calling “Breaking News” with eight panelists at a single time. Jon Stewart’s movie, Irresistable, even parodied CNN several times for this broadcast style.
Cable news is a dying media, but it’s killing journalism. Every day I ask myself, “where is journalism headed?” The fact that the future isn’t bright prevented me from even studying journalism in college.
The New York Times Effect
One of the few hopes for the future of journalism is the New York Times’ success story.
At the time of writing this, NYT has more than 40 million paying subscribers. When the Times first began their transition to digital in the late-2000s, critics scoffed at the idea. At the time, many readers could already get stories online without paying. Want users to pay for something they used to get for free? Just ask Google how their YouTube Premium subscriptions are going. Only 7 million pay for YouTube Music, compared with more than 50 million Apple Music subscribers and more than 100 million Spotify subscribers.
Right now, CNN is in a position that the Times were in. CNN needs to make that digital transition.
Obviously, I’ve stated my hatred for CNN, but they have a lot of skilled anchors and massive media personalities. Ever heard of Anderson Cooper?
One opinion piece I read stated how CNN could potentially be acquired by Twitter and the social media giant could potentially strip the service of bots and include a pay-to-view model that would improve the overall structure and experience that Twitter offers.
That is a best-case scenario, at least in my view.
Worst-case, Disney decides they want to enter cable news’ field and begin their 24/7 news empire by acquiring CNN. When Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in 2017, the deal did not include any of Fox’s news assets or sports assets, even local sports channels, because of anti-trust laws and lack of corporation, especially since Disney already owns ABC (which has a nightly news show) and the U.S.’ largest sports media company, ESPN.
This might be unlikely because if Disney really wanted to launch 24/7 news, it could be better to house it under the already-owned ABC name. It could be more suiting for a company like Netflix to acquire CNN.
Is CNN worth saving?
So now the question becomes: does CNN deserve to be saved?
Sure, they could partner with any of the aforementioned corporations and Big Tech could merge yet again, but do they deserve it?
CNN is the second-largest cable news outlet in the U.S, but it doesn’t matter if less are watching each year. Ratings fall higher than MSNBC but lower than Fox almost every year. Cable has already lost approximately 25 percent of Americans to cord-cutters like YouTube TV or Hulu Live TV or Sling since 2012. In the next five years, cable is projected to lose another 25 percent.
So many do not trust news organizations already. The only person I know who cares about CNN is my seventy-five year-old grandfather. My dad watches Fox, my aunt watches MSNBC, and most of my friends just get news from reposts on social media.
Me? I scroll Twitter for headlines and Apple News to find out what’s going on. Most people are cutting cable, and rightfully so. Nobody cares about cable anymore. And news/sports is all that’s keeping cable afloat.
I say cut it.