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     In 1970, R.E. Turner bought WJRJ-Atlanta a small, struggling UHF station. He renamed it WTCG for the parent company: Turner Communications Group. Through careful programming acquisitions the station became a success, and in fact, WTCG was the first superstation—able to transmit by satellite to cable systems. Then in 1979, Turner Communications Group was renamed Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, and the WTCG was renamed WTBS.[1]
     In 1980, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. introduced the first 24-hour, all-news network calling it the Cable News Network (CNN). This 20 million dollar investment [2]was the biggest gamble of the mogul’s career. [3]   The first broadcast was launched at 5:00 pm EST Sunday June 1. Ted Turner actually introduced the husband and wife anchor team, David Walker and Lois Hart. TBS launched a second CCN called HLN (Headline News) in 1982, which aired 30-minute newscasts at all hours, with the intention that anyone could tune in at anytime for a quick briefing of the daily news.

    Before CNN, the news was read in the paper in the morning and recapped at night. However, CNN allowed viewers to actually watch the news as it unfolded. CNN was the first to break ground on many flash-bulb stories: the Challenger explosion, 9/11, and most famously, the Gulf war. This insider's edge allowed the station to grow – from 225 staffers broadcasting to 1.7 millions viewers to 4,000 staffers broadcasting to 260 million.[4]
    The rest of the televsion industry took notice.  Turner is not modest concerning the network’s impact on televisions, "Today, 25 years after CNN first launched, there are more than 70 television channels broadcasting 24-hour news coverage around the world -- a true testament that CNN changed the world of broadcasting and journalism” [5]  However, with new competition like FOX and MSNBC, CNN’s network viewership has been dropping. Although, it should be noted that's web traffic is the second highest news website (after Yahoo News) [6], and when compared to Fox's and MSNBC's websites, users tend to spend the most time on CNN (which is called stickiness). [7]

Functioning: Production, Distribution & Transmission


CNN: Cable News Network is owned by its parent company, Time Warner. Along with its global headquarter, CNN Center, in Atlanta (Georgia), there are numerous CNN bureaus across the world: CNN International, CNN Arabic, CNN Chile, CNN Español, HLN in Asia Pacific, CNN Turk and etc.

    CNN broadcasts its news coverage and other shows via cable, satellite and telecommunication. CNN is the first news corporate to offer online news service,, in 1995.[8] Today, is ranked No.1 among the news websites with 38.7 million users in March, compared with's 33.8 million and's 17 million (Nielsen NetRatings, National Journal). As a part of a recent improvement in its online service, launched iPhone application that offer live news videos. In a data collected from Nielsen’s Mobile MediaView in February, CNN is said to have 14.8 million unique visitors to its mobile site in February and CNN Digital beats its closest rival, Yahoo News, by 174 percent. CNN Digital has topped the news and current events category for 38 consecutive months. ( Nielsen's Mobile MediaView, National Journal). 

     Besides, CNN reaches its audiences via its other widely available services: CNN Airport Network, CNN Newsource, CNN Radio, CNN Mobile, and, CNN/U.S. and HLN. Although CNN has strong viewership for its news coverage, it has been doing very poorly with its prime-time programming. It received low ratings for the past few years and still the rating is low compared to its rivals MSNBC and Fox News. It earns only about 10% of its revenue from its prime-time shows and the rest 90% come from its non-prime-time programming on the network and on the above mentioned CNN-branded news and information platforms (National Journal).


Branding and Programming

CNN brands itself as a serious and reliable 24-hour global news organization. As with any cable news channel, they strive to report breaking and important stories. Cnn has a noticeably more international focus than Fox News or MSNBC, as evidenced by its CNN International channel. They more politically centrist than the more conservative Fox News and more liberal MSNBC. 

CNN’s daily programming follows the same format as other cable news networks- a morning shows, newsroom-style reporting that occupies the daytime hours, and a prime-time populated by individual programs. The day begins with American Morning, a morning news show that focuses on the stories at hand than the interaction between the hosts. The majority of the day is occupied by CNN Newsroom, which, as the name implies, broadcasts news in the typical anchors and newsroom format. The prime-time block begins at 5 with The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, which models itself after the Situation Room of the White House. It is followed up by John King USA which focuses on American politics. Parker Spitzer follows at 8; a newer show featuring former New York governer Eliot Spitzer, it aims to showcase different opinions through debates involving the hosts and guests. The next show in the prime-time block is Larry King Live, a long-running evening talk show in which the host, Larry King, interviews important and relevant figures. It was announced in June 2010 that the show would end its run in December[9]. The final show of the evening is Anderson Cooper 360, an award-winning two hour long show in which Anderson Cooper focuses on the biggest current news stories. This programming format of a morning show, a newsroom-based daytime, and a prime-time filled with individual programs follows the format of other cable news channels4.

In addition to the CNN channel, there are other three other primary outlets bearing the CNN name:, CNN Headline News, and CNN International. offers both live streams and archived footage. CNN Headline News, also a 24-hour channel, broadcasts looping newsroom-style coverage. CNN International, which typically airs on premium cable, focuses on global stories rather than news specific to the US5

Textual Analysis

Anderson Cooper 360

    Anderson Cooper 360, hosted, as the name suggests, by Anderson Cooper, is CNN’s hallmark prime time program and has been since it began in 2003. It sits in the 10:00-11:00 PM weekday time slot and is filmed in either CNN’s New York City studio or on location. While it has received many nominations and awards for excellence in television journalism, the show’s viewership has been in decline in recent years. CNN as a channel is suffering from decreasing ratings, and Anderson Cooper 360 is still seen from within as their go-to program[10].
     The show typically focuses on one or two major stories, which currently are mid-term elections and the hot-button issue of anti-gay bullying, and is fairly often filmed on location. The most recent notable example of this is Cooper’s coverage of the Haiti earthquake. This is one of the ways CNN differentiates the program from its prime time competitors on Fox and MSNBC, which are rarely, if ever, broadcast from outside of a studio. Cooper as a host also differentiates himself from other prime time news figures such as Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann in that is not in outward support of one party or another. This goes along with CNN’s channel-wide branding strategy that has them as politically moderate and striving towards apolitical. In terms of target audience, Anderson Cooper 360 seems to be seeking to attract a younger and affluent or upwardly mobile social group of which Cooper himself was once a part. The first way CNN does this is through scheduling, both in terms of time slot and in relation to other news channels’ programming. Many older people will have turned off their television and gone to bed when AC 360 comes on at 10, while younger people are more likely to be up. Its primary competitor at 10 PM is former CNN anchor Greta Van Sustren and her program on Fox News. The show also discusses issues that are important to younger, more socially liberal people, issues like gay rights, that programs on other channels like Fox news might be remiss to bring up. Anderson Cooper 360 also fits in with CNN’s internationalist branding strategy. Many of the on-location stories the program covers are abroad; stories such as the Haiti earthquake and the 2005 tsunami in southern Asia. Both the program’s stories and Cooper’s journalistic style have a noticeably human feel. He tends to focus on the people effected by and involved in the story rather than the political or partisan discourse surrounding it.
     However, both Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN are facing a consistent decline in ratings. While is still one of the web’s most trafficked news sites, this popularity is not reflected in television viewership. The partisan punditry of Fox News and MSNBC seems to be what viewers want, and strategies such as these do not fit with the branding of CNN or Anderson Cooper 360, the channel’s most important prime time program. But having with a history of success and acclaim and a new contract for its host, the show will continue bring its unique style to cable news.

Larry King Live

Larry King Live, a CNN primetime talk show hosted by Larry King was started in 1985 in the same year when Larry King started working for CNN. It is currently the longest run and first phone-in talk show of CNN, which is coming to an end on 16th December 2010, after 25 years. Larry King is said to have done more than 40,000 interviews over the period. He interviews people of interest from different backgrounds: celebrities, politicians, religious figures and business personals. His way of interviewing is usually friendly, frank, direct, non-confrontational and spontaneous. Larry King also states that he is not a fan of current generation talk show hosts. He says that they either try to lecture thier guests or show off their shows in the interviews, more than doing thier job as a listener. He claims that on his show, 90% of the time, his guest speaks, not him. ...Larry King has won an Emmy Award for his long service in the Television Industry. According to CNN, he is been called as "the most remarkable talk-show host on TV ever" by TV Guide and "master of the mike" by TIME magazine. His show has been CNN’s highest-rated program for a long time, until recently when he fell behind his other rivals such as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Fox News's Sean Hannity in the rating competition. The last episode of his show will be running on 16th of December 2010.

Schedule: Monday –Sunday (9:00pm-10:00pm)
(Two replays at 12:00am & 3:00am)

Due to being one of the highest-rated primetime programs, CNN has never changed the time slot for Larry King Live. It runs from 9:00pm-10:00pm every night, the time when people are actively engaged in Television viewing. Moreover there are re-runs or replays of his show twice a day to make sure that their hit show is being watched by as many viewers as possible.

Target Audiences: Adults (usually 18 and above). Since his interviewees are mostly celebrities or public figures, his target audiences is normally limited to urban audiences or people who are up to date with all the new changes from Hollywood to Whitehouse or in the world on a larger scale. For example, on last Thursday night (November 4) on Larry King Live, King invited Janet Jackson. His show is then limited or targeted only to the limited number of fans that Janet Jackson has or people who knew her as the sister of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
     It will be a big change for CNN when Larry King Live will be replaced by another show in December 2010. Maybe the CNN will have a better chance at scoring higher rates with a new face and a new style. But they might also lose many of the long-time fans of their veteran anchor, Larry King.

Report #3: Audiences & Online Analysis


 CNN was one of the pioneers in developing an online website for its news network, where millions of its viewers can have a quick and an easy access to its contents. The viewers no longer have to depend on an importable-stationary Television set while they can watch the world on various other portable screens: laptops, phones, iPods, iPads and the list goes on. Today, CNN has its online official website compiled of a complex network of various links to different programs and applications. The links on its home page are subcategorized under relevant sub-headings such as “Video”, “News Plus”, “US”, “World”, “Politics”, “Entertainment”, “Tech” , “Health”, “Justice”, “Travel”, “Opinion”, “iReport”, “Money”, “Sports” and so on. Such efficient way of organizing its contents on its website, makes it easier for the viewers to personalize their news consumption. For instance, a person who is interested more in reading or watching health care related news can directly access the relevant link and can avoid all other unwanted news stories… Besides the official online website, CNN provides access to its news contents and other programs through other diverse means, such as its channel on YouTube, a fan page on Facebook, an account on Twitter and blog posts by its staffs and news anchors. CNN breaks its latest news to its followers via these online platforms and engages in an active interaction with its audiences by facilitating a forum for discussion. For example, the fans on CNN’s Facebook page can interact among themselves and with the channel by commenting on or liking a wall post by the CNN. The efforts made to engage with the viewers online certainly widen the scope to boost its viewership by creating an impression that ever more viewers or the fans can influence the functioning of the CNN through active every day and from anywhere participation.

     But as the saying goes, “There is no such thing as free lunch.”, it is also true that these online websites or forums initiated by CNN are not only for the purpose of disseminating news updates and its other programs, but also a means through which commercial advertisements reaches its consumers. At the start of every news clip, there is a commercial advertisement that cannot be circumvented unless one switches to something else or mutes the advertisement, just the way people deal with commercial advertisements on Televisions. Many other commercial advertisements also pop up from almost every corner of the screen to compete with the news contents for our attention. Some of the most frequently appeared commercial advertisements on CNN’s official websites are the commercial advertisements for Priceline, Cleveland Clinic, FedEx, Capital One bank, car brands, insurance companies and so forth. This selective approach to the commercial advertisements ties back to CNN’s definition of its target audiences. CNN sees itself as a news channel for adult viewers and hence it incorporates the kind of commercial advertisements that will interest adult viewers. For instance, the youngsters will not worry about or care about a Life Insurance, while their parents do.


  iReport was founded on August 2, 2006[11] as a component of Opening up iReport, one is greeted with a pop-up: “Hi! You're new here, right?” This simple gesture emphasizes the personal relationship hopes to cultivate with its users.
iReport allows each person to take part in news reporting by writing articles and submitting pictures and video of what contributors consider newsworthy. The idea: if someone is a fan of CNN, they can contribute; if someone is not, they can use their voice to shape what CNN covers by submitting their own stories. The submissions are made, and depending on their urgency and popularity, producers will “vet” them (in other words, fact check and edit the submissions). Submissions which are vetted will be incorporated into CNN’s coverage, while submissions unvetted will be labeled as such (but still displayed on iReport). As of 7:30 P.M., November 18, 2010 506,972 iReports have been submitted, while 34,071 have been vetted[12].

     iReport seems to be most useful in breaking news stories – flashbulb events, where humanity is shaken at its core. Pictures and videos from these events given by regular citizens can be post faster than news stations arrive at the scene, but more importantly, carry a greater sense of intimacy. News reporters in full-makeup and lighting at the scene of tragedy tend to diminish the effect of immediacy, the effect that this could happen in your town; however, iReport increases this effect. For example the iReport feature was prominently used in the Virginia Tech shooting, the gas facility explosion in Dallas, and the bridge collapse in Mississippi. In fact, 450 iReport submissions were received within 24 hours of the bridge collapsing[13].
     Fans seem very supportive of the website, judging by the number of submissions and the general success of iReport. Other news organizations have adopted a similar user-based submission platform (for example, Fox has uReport). In addition, iReport has begot a half-hour show a CNN International called iReport for CNN, which showcases the “newsiest” iReports on the internet. The largest places for debate are in the comments sections. However, this debate is not usually about CNN, but rather the individual stories being reported on.
     One criticism that could be leveled at iReport is the fact that CNN still can sway what become popular stories and what are deemed “newsiest” (which is a “formula that combines freshness, popularity, activity and ratings” [14]. CNN can control which articles are the most read and popular by posting them on the front page, leading to being the most commented on. This is not a claim I have read substantiated anywhere, but nevertheless, it is a concern to consider. The process of vetting also will allow an article to become more popular than others, but I think it is a good way to fully incorporate user submissions as part of CNN. Another concern is not enough articles are vetted – less than 10 percent[15]. Two years ago, there was a controversy when an unvetted iReport falsely claimed Steve Jobs had a heart attack[16]. This concern aside, it seems as though the good of iReport, outweighs the possible negatives.


1. McPike, Erin. "Away From Prime Time, CNN Thrives." National Journal (2010). Academic OneFile. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.

Document URL

2. Corporate website:

3.  "Larry King to end long-running US TV chat show." BBC. 29 June 2010. 6 October 2010. <> 

4. Corporate website:

5. Corporate website:





  1. Corporate Website.
  2. "In 20 years, CNN has changed the way we view the news."
  3. "CNN changed news - for better and worse." Taipei Times.
  4. "CNN changed news - for better and worse." Taipei Times.
  5. "CNN changed news - for better and worse." Taipei Times.
  6. "Top 15 Most Popular News Websites." Oct. 2010.
  7. Fine, John. "How Fox was Outfoxed."
  8. 1
  9. "Larry King to end long-running US TV chat show"
  10. Pompeo, Joe. "Anderson Cooper's Ratings Are Still Tanking." Business Insider. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;;amp;amp;amp;gt; Sept. 10, 2010.