Rosen is right about what Zucker wants. But the call for more broadcast hours devoted to news “that matters” and fewer hours of TV trials — that, as many have accurately put it, are barely distinguishable from CSIepisodes — might have been more persuasive in the days when the television audience had only the three broadcast network newscasts to choose from, when the only national newspaper was the business-oriented Wall Street Journal, when there was no real-time access to foreign newspapers and broadcasts, and when researchers were only fantasizing about something as ubiquitous as the Web. But today’s media menu gives the news audience more opportunities than ever before to find the news that others might describe as meaningful and important.
It does not matter if CNN is covering the Zimmerman trial like a pride of lions covers a hobbled zebra. CNN is relieved of its obligation to not suck, because there are other ways of getting news! Go ahead and suck, CNN!
It might have made sense three decades ago, when CNN was getting started, that its over-coverage of one story was blotting out other, more worthy stories. But that critique doesn’t apply to 2013. CNN, which used to be the only TV news meal at times of breaking international news like this, is only one of the entrees. Any number of sites have live-streamed the Egyptian protests on to the Web and sharply reported, photographed, and filmed accounts from Cairo are only a hashtag search away the reader’s eye.
You can find that Egyptian stuff on the Internet, which everyone has, equally, everywhere! You can read about climate change on the blogs. It’s all the same! CNN has no power that somebody with an iPhone does not have! Everybody just relax into the bullshit.
I hope Shafer’s just playing dumb here in pretending that the emphasis a major national news network places on a story has no impact on the amount of attention Americans pay to that story. Because if he’s not playing, somebody should take the toys away before he hurts himself.
What gets covered MATTERS. The stories you choose to tell matter. If CNN is choosing to tell a crappy story, it doesn’t really matter that Twitter exists for other things. It means CNN is sucking right now and should be called out for it. They’re a goddamn news channel. Call me back when they’re a Sensationalistic Bullshit Channel, and I’ll defend their right to provide wall-to-wall off-the-wall all night long.