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The Top 10 Ways CNN Could Improve


Flight Director
Flight Instructor
CNN ratings are sliding. Pundits are eager to chime in and explain why but few are willing to explain a good way to improve the station. In a non-Letterman style, here are the top 10 ways CNN could improve and maybe gain back viewers.

1. Stop the Chatter
There is nothing more annoying than listening to anchors (news readers) talking to each other. Giggle giggle gag. No one likes it when two checkout people are speaking to each other rather than to you. Right? So shut up and stop talking to each other. In fact ....

2. Have one reader (no one else in camera view)
Have a single person on camera, reading the news without interjections for 15 minutes. Start with the top news stories (not fan fiction). Rotate to a different news reader after 15 minutes.

3. Stop using Twitter and Facebook reactions
I can read so stop acting like reactions from Twitter and Facebook are news. They are not.

4. Stop asking what viewers think
I don't care what your crazy Aunt Sally thinks nor my neighbor. I want to know the news and get on with my life. Make my life better by cutting to the chase and just tell me what is happening around the globe.

5. Stop reporting "Polls"
Opinion polls are not news. They are fodder to chew on and blabber about with people who don't have anything better to do than talk. Stop telling me about this or that poll. I don't care.

6. Prepare as many angles to a story as possible - giving time for actual depth
Stop introducing the news, reintroducing the news, telling me you just told me the news, laugh anchor, then tell me to stay tuned. Instead, add depth to each story. Explain as many angles as possible. Tell me the Republican view, the Democrat view, the Independent view, the Socialist view, the Anarchist view, and any other authoritative perspective.

7. Identify the talking points as talking points
If the RNC sent out a memo to people then identify the points in the memo as talking points. Don't let politicians just give them and try to make "news" by attacking them. That's just creepy. Instead, identify all the talking points as talking points.

8. Stop Interviewing Politicians
They are not telling us anything new. In fact, they usually don't answer the questions. Therefore, ban politicians from your station. Ignore them. If they say something important then that would be news, therefore, you can quote them.

9. Stop Round Table Discussions
The banter and chatter is annoying. The experts are usually just biased individuals who have an agenda. Therefore, ban the table and stick to just the news.

10. Stop the hyperbole and rhetoric
Close to some of the ideas above - identify hyperbole as hyperbole as well as identify rhetoric as rhetoric. Help your viewers by sticking to the news.

Leave the hyperbole and inflammatory remarks to Huffington Post and the people leaving comments. CNN should just stick to the news. It would be fresh. Other stations would look silly with their banter. You would actually be setting a trend. Good for you.

As a bonus ... here is number 11.

11. Stop telling me about CNN Talent
No. I'm not interested in knowing the name of any reader. I don't care about their name. I don't care about their personal lives. I don't care. They are just a reader. They are not talent.

Robert Heiny

Research Scientist of Learning and Education
Flight Instructor
I agree with the tenor of your suggestions. Thanks for listing them. I wonder who else might agree?

I think you listed several of the same point I heard Ted Turner say when he was interviewed on a PBS program and on Bloomberg's Charlie Rose program within the past few months. Turner was kinder to CNN than had been reported by others of his assessment, but he was clear he would do something closer to what you suggest if he had the choice.

Turner was clear that the majority of the CNN market is not in the U.S. I took that to mean that CNN is designed for people other than me, so I monitor, but do not watch any of their shows, except Candie Crowley and sometimes the other CNN early Sunday morning programs during commercial breaks on ABC and CBS Sunday morning interviews.