Cable News Network, usually referred to by its initialism CNN, is a major English language television network founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. The network is now owned by Time Warner and the news network is a division of the Turner Broadcasting System. CNN was the first station to provide 24-hour television news coverage. It is now second only to Britain's BBC News in the number of employed news journalists and worldwide news bureaus.
In terms of unique viewers (Nielsen Cume Ratings), CNN rates as America's number one cable news network, and is ranked number two behind Fox News in total audience Nielsen ratings. While the news network has numerous affiliates, CNN primarily broadcasts from its headquarters at the CNN Center in Atlanta, the Time Warner Center in New York City, and studios in Washington, D.C. As of June 2008, the network is available in 93 million U.S. households and more than 890,000 American hotel rooms. The U.S version of their broadcast is also shown in Canada. Globally, CNN airs through CNN International and has combined branded networks and services that are available to more than 1.5 billion people in over 212 countries and territories.
The Cable News Network was launched at 5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday June 1, 1980. After an introduction by Ted Turner, the husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored the first newscast. Since its debut, CNN has expanded its reach to a number of cable and satellite television networks, several web sites, specialized closed-circuit networks (such as CNN Airport Network), and two radio networks. The network has 36 bureaus (10 domestic, 26 international), more than 900 affiliated local stations, and several regional and foreign-language networks around the world. The network's success made a bona-fide mogul of founder Ted Turner and set the stage for the Time Warner conglomerate's eventual acquisition of Turner Broadcasting.
Despite its domestic standing, CNN remains a distant second in international news coverage, reaching just over half of the audience of the older BBC World News. Unlike the BBC's network of reporters and bureaus, CNN International makes extensive use of affiliated reporters that are local to, and often directly affected by, the events they are reporting. The effect is a more immediate, less detached style of on-the-ground coverage. This has done little to stem criticism, largely from Middle Eastern nations, that CNN International reports news from a pro-American perspective. This is a marked contrast to domestic criticisms that often portray CNN as having a "liberal" or "anti-American" bias.
A companion network, Headline News (originally called CNN2) was launched on January 1, 1982 and featured a continuous 24-hour cycle of 30-minute news broadcasts. Headline News broke from its original format in 2005 with the addition of Headline Prime. Current programs feature confrontational personalities like radio talk-show host Glenn Beck and former Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor Nancy Grace.
CNN HD was launched September 1, 2007, and was first nationally distributed by DirecTV on September 26, 2007.
The Gulf War
The first Persian Gulf War in 1991 was a watershed event for CNN that catapulted the network past the "big three" American networks for the first time in its history, largely due to an unprecedented, historical scoop: CNN was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraq during the initial hours of the American bombing campaign, with live reports from the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad by reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman, and Peter Arnett.
The Gulf War experience brought CNN some much sought-after legitimacy and made household names of previously obscure (and infamously low-paid) reporters. Many of these reporters now comprise CNN's "old guard." Bernard Shaw became CNN's chief anchor until his retirement in 2001. Others include then-Pentagon correspondent Wolf Blitzer (now host of The Situation Room and Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer) and international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour's presence in Iraq was caricatured by actress Nora Dunn as the ruthless reporter "Adriana Cruz" in the film Three Kings (1999). Time Warner later produced a television movie, Live from Baghdad, about the network's coverage of the first Gulf War, which aired on HBO.
The CNN effect
Coverage of the first Gulf War and other crises of the early 1990s (particularly the infamous Battle of Mogadishu) led officials at the Pentagon to coin the term "the CNN effect" to describe the perceived impact of real time, 24-hour news coverage on the decision-making processes of the American government.
CNN was the first network to have broken news of the September 11 attacks. Anchor Carol Lin was on the air to deliver the first public report of the event. She broke into a commercial at 8:49 a.m. ET and said:
This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
Daryn Kagan and Leon Harris were live on the air just after 9 a.m. ET as the second plane hit the World Trade Center and through an interview with CNN correspondent David Ensor, reported the news that U.S. officials determined "that this is a terrorist act." Later, Aaron Brown anchored through the day and night as the attacks unfolded. Brown had just come to CNN from ABC to be the Breaking News anchor.
Sean Murtagh, CNN vice-president for finance & administration, was the first network employee on the air in New York.
CNN launched two specialty news channels for the American market which would later close amid competitive pressure: CNNSI shut down in 2002, and CNNfn shut down after nine years on the air in December 2004. CNN and Sports Illustrated's partnership continues today online at CNNSI.com. CNNfn's former website now redirects to money.cnn.com, a product of CNN's strategic partnership with Money magazine. Money and SI are both properties of Time Warner, along with CNN.
CNN debuted its news website CNN.com (then known as CNN Interactive) on August 30, 1995. Initially an experiment, interest in CNN.com grew steadily over its first decade and today CNN.com is now one of the most popular news websites in the world. The wide-spread growth of blogs, social media and user-generated content have influenced the site, and blogs in particular have focused CNN's previously scattershot online offerings, most noticeably in the development and launch of CNN Pipeline in late 2005.
CNN Pipeline was the name of a paid subscription service, its corresponding website, and a content delivery client that provided streams of live video from up to four sources (or "pipes"), on-demand access to CNN stories and reports, and optional pop-up "news alerts" to computer users. The installable client was available to users of PCs running Microsoft Windows. There was also a browser-based "web client" that did not require installation. In July 2007 the service was discontinued and replaced with a free streaming service.
The now-defunct topical news-program Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics was the first CNN program to feature a round-up of blogs in 2004. Blog coverage was expanded when Inside Politics was folded into The Situation Room. In 2006 CNN launched CNN Exchange and CNN iReport, initiatives designed to further introduce and centralize the impact of everything from blogging to citizen journalism within the CNN brand. CNN iReport which features user-submitted photos and video, has achieved considerable traction, with increasingly professional-looking reports filed by amateur journalists, many still in high school or college. The iReport gained more prominence when observers of the Virginia Tech Shootings sent-in first hand photos of what was going during the shootings.
As of early 2008, CNN maintains a free live broadcast. CNN International is broadcasted live, as part of the RealNetworks SuperPass subscription outside US. CNN also offers several RSS feeds and podcasts.
On April 18, 2008 CNN.com was targeted by Chinese hackers in retaliation for the network's coverage on the 2008 Tibetan unrest. CNN reported that they took preventative measures after news broke of the impending attack.
The company was honored at the 2008 Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for development and implementation of an integrated and portable IP-based live, edit and store-and-forward digital newsgathering system.
Criticism and Controversies
CNN has been accused of perpetrating media bias for allegedly promoting both a conservative and a liberal agenda based on previous incidents. Media Matters for America has documented several hundred separate instances of what it sees as conservative editorializing during CNN broadcasts. Accuracy in Media and MRC have claimed that CNN's reporting contains liberal editorializing within news stories.
In 2002, Honest Reporting spearheaded a campaign to expose CNN for pro-Palestinian bias, citing public remarks in which Ted Turner equated Palestinian suicide bombing with Israeli military strikes.
Several prominent former CNN personalities have come to criticize certain aspects of the news network. Aaron Brown has said that CNN has committed "huge mistakes" and frames CNN as an "organization that is trying to figure out if it can be all things to all people." However, he also praised CNN's journalistic superiority, saying, "[...] CNN's a better journalism organization." Bernard Shaw has expressed that he is "very very disappointed with the way the news management" has handled his favorite network. He criticised the effects of Fox News' "commentary [and] personal analysis" on the news reporting of CNN, saying that "CNN continues to ape many of the on-air mannerisms of the Fox News Network, and I don't like that." As said by Ted Turner, founder of CNN, “There really isn’t much of a point getting some Tom, Dick or Harry off the streets to report on when we can snag a big name whom everyone identifies with. After all, it’s all part of the business.” However, in April 2008, Turner criticized the direction CNN has taken.
A Chinese website, anti-cnn.com, has accused CNN and western media in general of biased reporting against China, with the catch-phrase "Don't be so CNN" catching on in the Chinese mainstream as jokingly meaning "Don't be so biased". Pictures used by CNN are allegedly edited to have completely different meanings from the original ones. In addition, the network was accused of largely ignoring pro-China voices during the Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco. Though these allegations exist, none have been proven to be true.
On April 24, 2008 beautician Liang Shubing and teacher Li Lilan sued commentator Jack Cafferty and CNN $1.3 billion damages ($1 per person in China), in New York, for "violating the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people". This was in response to an incident during CNN's "The Situation Room" on April 9, where Cafferty stated his opinion that "[the USA] continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" despite his view that "[the Chinese leaders were] basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years". Further, amid China's Foreign Ministry demand for an apology, 14 lawyers filed a similar suit in Beijing.
CNN has also been accused of pro-Georgian coverage of Southossetian conflict. Allegedly, it stole Rusiya Al-Yaum records from Tskhinvali and represented them as shots from Gori.
CNN in Popular Culture
CNN has been parodied many times. Many movies outside of the Turner Broadcasting Network also mention CNN in their storylines. Several television shows (i.e. Seven Days, JAG, and NCIS) use a parody of CNN known as ZNN. During the run of the series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, LNN was used to stand for the Luthor News Network. In the movie Mr Bones appears a news network with the name "CCN", its logo being in the same font as CNN's. In the video game Desert Strike, the in-game news station is called EANN, with the EA standing for the video game company's name, Electronic Arts. The movie Batman Forever shows a newscast on "GNN" (presumably standing for Gotham News Network). The logo is very similar to the "CNN" logo. GNN also appears on the Nolan series of Batman films. Other parodies or references include Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour's American campaign, featuring updates on missions with a correspondent from BNN, the rapper Eminem included a similar alteration in his song "Without Me", where, dressed up as Osama Bin Laden he was reported on by ENN, due to his name being Eminem.
CNN's most famous station ID is a five-second musical jingle with James Earl Jones' simple but classic line, "This is CNN." Jones' voice can still be heard today in updated station IDs. The line has also been referenced in other programming, including The Simpsons.
Australian satirist group The Chaser produced 12 half-hour episodes of CNNNN, a show that parodied the logo and slogan, with taglines such as "We report, You believe". The show ended after CNN threatened to sue. The Chaser was shown on CNN in July 2007 after their APEC 2007 stunt on their show The Chaser's War on Everything created considerable controversy.
CNN HD is a 1080i High definition simulcast of CNN. Since most of CNN's programs are not produced in HD, stylized pillarboxing is used. However, during special events such as election day coverage, the areas on the sides show extra information, such as poll numbers (percentages) for each candidate and state. These are not seen on the SD channel.
CNN HD's program line-up is exactly the same as CNN's main channel, with high-definition versions of select programming. Since not all CNN studios and news gathering cameras are HD-capable, only shows based out of CNN's New York City studios such as American Morning, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN Election Center, Anderson Cooper 360 and Your Money are in HD. The documentary Planet in Peril was CNN's first documentary program produced in HD, followed by Black in America.
During primary and caucus nights, America Votes 2008 is produced in complete HD with Wolf Blitzer anchoring from CNN's main New York studio which is renamed the CNN Election Center. During this time, CNN HD viewers get additional information on the side of their TV screens (this also happened for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, 2008 Republican National Convention, and the 2008 presidential and vice-presidential debates, all of which were also shot in HD.)
Initial carriage of CNN HD on cable and satellite systems was limited. DirecTV launched CNN HD in September, 2007. By June 2008, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, AT&T U-verse, Rogers Cable, Midcontinent Communications, Bright House Networks, and Dish Network launched carriage of CNN HD. Verizon is currently in the process of adding CNN HD to its FiOS service on a market by market basis.
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