I will be researching the effect of twenty-four hour news networks on public opinion, reporting quality, and the structure of the news media industry. An examination of the so-called "CNN Effect"—the impact of 24-hour-a day, live television coverage broadcast from around the world, should yield greater insight into how we consume information and a determination of its positive or negative effect.
Positive examples of frequent exposure to current events can be exemplified by change in public policy spurred by public sentiment. Heartbreaking footage of starving children in Somalia pressured U.S. officials to send troops there in the early 2000’s. Not long after, horrifying footage of Somalis dragging the body of a dead American soldier through the streets followed, prompting U.S. officials to withdraw. A greater awareness of the surrounding world is made readily available; Americans can follow current events in real time and gain exposure to new perspectives.
However, 24 hour networks rely on just that, 24 hours of news. Their success is determined by ratings, making it in their best interest to cover stories people are entertained with, occasionally sacrificing journalistic integrity for popularity. The structure of media operations revolves around profits, which are derived from advertisers. These advertisers expect viewers, not depth or controversy, which are typically staples of groundbreaking reporting.
Have 24 hour news networks become handcuffed by the business model of media?