Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Profiting from Tragedy

CNN Uses Toy Plane To Enhance Coverage Of Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

A recent article in the New York Times highlights many things we've discussed throughout class, specifically surrounding the media business. Twenty-four hour cable news station CNN has used the missing Malaysian jetplane story to significantly boost its ratings. According to the article, CNN’s ratings soared last week and over the weekend, rising by almost 100 percent in prime time. The network even managed the rare feat of edging past Fox News for leadership in several hours. 
"It is [CNN]...scrambling to find a sustainable business model against its main competitors, Fox News and MSNBC, that has perhaps invested most heavily in the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370."
Using speculation, expert commentary, visual pizzazz, and even toy model airplanes, the network is drawing all it can from a story with very few reliable or verifiable developments. 
"Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the American Press Institute, a research center devoted to analyzing media, said, “Even a great story and a great mystery can become exploited. There were periods where the coverage entered into fantastical territory.” Mr. Rosentstiel said he was not speaking only of CNN, but the cable news coverage in general, which he described as “an architecture for the news that is, at times, hard to fill.”"
What do you think? Should CNN continue to "exploit" this story to generate ratings even when no new details are available, even at the expense of more relevant and important news coverage? Could this ultimately destroy the reputation of the network, or is the bottom line [profits] more important? 

1 comment:

  1. Of course, many of the mass media have forever profited from tragedy. Newspapers used to publish EXTRA! editions when an big event hit. Broadcast news ratings as well as print circulation always soar with the big story. Down the road, books get published and sold providing by details. (Think Truman Capote's In Cold Blood). While we could argue whether CNN has run the string on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 too far, the basic notion of the media benefiting from covering tragedy has long ago been a established.


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