When Temple University School of Media and Communication Professor Chris Harper, journalism, heard the news July 27 that CNN President Jim Walton will be resigning at the end of the year, he wasn’t surprised.
Harper points to the June 28 “debacle” when CNN initially – and inaccurately — reported that the Supreme Court killed the “individual mandate” of President Obama’s health care plan. The network issued a correction soon after.
Harper said this mistake was the figurative straw that broke the camel’s back.
According to the Associated Press, CNN had its worst-ever ratings for the past two quarters.
Seated firmly at third place in the ratings behind Fox and MSNBC, Journalism Professor Karen Turner says CNN has become lost while “trying to find its voice in between two news cable brands that are very partisan.”
Harper agrees that CNN has no brand. “It hasn’t differentiated itself from Fox and MSNBC. It needs to get away from star anchors and talking heads.”
Harper said a network president tends to be “the fall guy” when things go awry, since he “sets the tone for almost everything that happens at a network. If the tone isn’t right, they go away.”
Harper said it would behoove the network to return to its news reporting roots.
“CNN has to commit itself to spend money on covering the news,” he says. “There is a lot of razzmatazz on CNN right now that is simply eye candy.”
Turner suggests that CNN might want to model itself after MSNBC in hiring on-camera talent in order to reach the key young viewer demographic.
“They probably have to bring in fresher voices, younger voices,” she says. “Really get some wonky types, (but still in the) middle of the road.”