Why Things Are So Dismal at CNN

Q2 viewership hasn't been this low since the Gulf War
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2012 10:16 AM CDT
CNN averaged 446,000 total viewers in Q2.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

(Newser) – CNN's glory days are unquestionably behind it. Want proof? Q2 of 2012 clocked in as its lowest-rated quarter in 21 years. In fairness, Deadline notes that all three cable news networks reported a dip, but when you stack up the numbers, things looks pretty gloomy for the network: It averaged 446,000 total primetime viewers to Fox News' 1.79 million; even MSNBC eked out 689,000. Not even the dashing Anderson Cooper could save the day—his show reeled in 19% fewer viewers. On the heels of the dour numbers, the media weighs in:

  • TVNewser tempers CNN's 35% drop in primetime viewers year over year, pointing out that Q2 of 2011 was a biggie: Osama bin Laden was killed and Kate and Wills tied the knot. (By comparison, Fox News was down 1%; MSNBC, 13%.)
  • And a big part of the network's problem, posits the New York Times, is its avoidance of hyperpartisan analysis, which helps fill in the gaps when there's just not much going on. It "has yet to find an answer to what to do when news is light," writes Bill Carter.
  • Politico goes behind the scenes, talking to staffers and former execs who report that morale is low and cite a lack of editorial leadership. "It’s frustrating to hear our leadership talk about the exemplary journalism we do, then turn on the TV during the day and see CNN doing another story about 'birthers' or 'tips for dining out alone,'" said one staffer, complaining about the lack of strategy.
  • But one senior VP tells Politico that isn't so, saying its "clear" editorial direction rests upon "worldwide newsgathering and reporting a broad range of stories without picking sides." Still, Dylan Byers writes that "Cooper, once known for intrepid reports from disaster zones, now makes his most notable contributions to the following day’s news with a humor segment called 'The RidicuList.'"
(Read more CNN stories.)

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