My first real encounter with CNN happened at the onset of the First Gulf War. We didn’t have cable but one of our local stations broadcast the station live through the night as Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman reported from their position. Better than any reality television today; there was no editing. It was raw coverage, the men were caught unexpectedly when the war began and not able to leave the area. So they reported live, for hours and days, on the shelling and gunfire surrounding their hotel. It was riveting. You can feel the tension in these clips:
The opportunity to have live international news was so compelling we joined many and signed up for cable.
But now, more than 20 years later, things have changed. No longer king, CNN seen its ratings hemorrhage losing 35-40% of their viewers in the past quarter as listed in the Hollywood Reporter and By The Numbers.
CNN – Prime time viewers – 446,000 (25-54 age group – 129,000)
MSNBC – Prime time viewers – 689,000 (25-54 age group – 217,000)
FOX—Prime time viewers –1.79 Million (25-54 age group – 254,000)
It is worth noting that both MSNBC and FOX also reported lower numbers, but appreciably smaller changes.
Waiting at the airport last week I was reminded of the once powerful station. Sitting there watching CNN I wondered whether the airport chose to air this station due to popularity or perhaps they were under contract. With ratings in the tank it is apparent that the station was not on due to passenger request.
As Bob Dylan sings, “The times, they are a-changin’”.