CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker’s office, on the fifth floor of the Time Warner Center in New York, is an unexpectedly modest rectangle adjacent to the airy newsroom, with only a bank of TV screens mounted on one wall suggesting that this man runs the world’s most recognizable TV-news operation. When Zucker took over CNN in January 2013, nobody knew how he was planning to remake the network–including Bourdain, whose show was in production but hadn’t yet aired. Zucker might have killed it right then, but instead he gave it a prime Sunday-night time slot and a major marketing push. “Tony is an incredibly strong storyteller–he tells stories through food and travel and a little alcohol mixed in,” says Zucker. “Really, that’s what CNN should be about. I learned as much about Israel and the Palestinians from Tony’s hour on Jerusalem as I did from any reporting that I’ve seen.”
Then your reporting needs to be better. Too many damn reporters think repeating some buzzwords in front of a backdrop is what the news is all about. If you can take a storytelling lesson from a cooking show, great, but take that lesson and apply it elsewhere. Don’t just say hey, this is great, but let’s keep investing in letting Wolf Blitzer yell incoherencies while Republicans spew nonstop bullshit.