Despite Continued Criticism Over Its Boston Marathon Manhunt Coverage, CNN Wins In The Ratings

April 23, 2013  |  

You know your news broadcast has problems when Don Imus feels entitled to criticize it. CNN continues to feel the heat resulting from their coverage of the manhunt for the teenage suspect in the Boston Marathon attack, which both erroneously reported that there had been an arrest before there was one, and reported that the suspect was a “dark-skinned male.”

“I just want to know what happened,” Imus said on the air today. “Just tell me what happened.” (He calls their reporting “hyper-bolay”… LOL.)

And once again, Jon Stewart went in mercilessly on CNN on The Daily Show, not just for the content, but for the seeming disorganization between the reporters and the control room in their ongoing race to report all the things they don’t know.

But pay the facts no nevermind, say the viewers. Reports The New York Times:

CNN averaged 2.9 million viewers for its daylong coverage, behind the 3.2 million who watched Fox News. But among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, which is how advertisers buy commercials on news channels, CNN had 1.34 million viewers, compared with 952,000 for Fox News. In both cases those were the best numbers for CNN for all nonpolitical events since April 2003, when the channel was covering the Iraq war.

The question is whether this a momentary bump or something the network can carry through. More than that, there’s the issue of CNN’s reputation. Already tarnished for their bloopers while reporting the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s healthcare plan (CNN said it had been struck down), the reporting last week definitely didn’t help. In this column by the Times‘ David Carr, he notes that people want CNN to succeed, but “hugely embarrassing” incidents like the one last week undermine it. And they’re messing up at a time when people are paying attention to the changes that new president Jeff Zucker is putting into place. Carr writes:

Part of the reason that we still want CNN to be great is that at a moment when information and news seem to have done a jailbreak — bursting forth everywhere in all sorts of ways — it would be nice to have a village common where a reliable provider of news held the megaphone. By marketing itself as the most trusted name in news, CNN is and should be held to a higher standard.

And for his efforts, John King remains on the air. He addressed his coverage on Twitter, and it’s worth noting that other outlets, including the AP, said they had sources stating an arrest had been made. And King said he also had sources telling him the suspect was dark-skinned. Now he’s off to Texas to interview President George W. Bush about his new presidential library, which will be opening on May 1.

“The challenge for us is how to make CNN more essential, how to make it one of the four tires on the car,” Zucker said at an Atlanta Press Club event last month. To be more essential, the network has to be more careful and less ridiculous.


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