Thursday, September 29, 2011

"CNN Effect" on Public Awareness

Topic Proposal

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?

An excellent example of criticism of CNN by Jon Stewart


  1. This topic is really cool. Are you going to address the biases of 24 hour news networks?

  2. Justin, this sounds great. We hear so much about bad news being what sells these days: peaceful protesters hardly ever make the news even when they're going out with a purpose, whereas mindless violent crimes will make the news no matter what. Check out some of the recent news on the Occupy Wall Street protests as well as the Keystone Pipeline protests -- we've been talking about them both in Rhetoric of Social Movements and it could provide you with some interest examples of the dramatization of news.