Last night, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker gave a hint of where the network will go next now thats its two-plus-month coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is subsiding.
“I don’t think there’s any question about our commitment to breaking news, as evidenced by all the questions about the plane,” he told New York Times television reporter Bill Carter during an interview at the Deadline Club’s annual awards dinner. “So we’re still there whenever that happens, but we’re going to supplement that with some different kind of storytelling.”
CNN’s round-the-clock coverage of the search for the missing Malaysian flight was mocked widely for its obsessiveness, and was the “so-called 777 in the room” at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in midtown, where the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was celebrating its annual awards.
Asked whether he considered his channel’s ratings-elevating coverage of the event was ever excessive, Zucker said, “If I take a step back from our coverage of the Malaysian plane’s disappearance, I’m incredibly comfortable with it. I believed early on, right from the start, that it was an enormously important story: an American-made Boeing jet liner, with Rolls Royce engines with 239 people, disappears into thin air…That’s why we devoted the resources that we did to it.”
CNN continues to mention the story every day, Zucker said, noting that the families of the 239 people aboard the plane still ask for updates. Yesterday, CNN reported that raw satellite data about the plane’s course could soon be made public.
Zucker was also asked if his network would devote any significant amount of time covering the upcoming Benghazi special committee hearings where House Republicans will try to get to the bottom of who knew what and when:
“We’re not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something,” he said. “If it’s of real news value, we’ll cover it.”
Translation: If they can figure out a way to sensationalize the hell out of the murders of four innocent Americans on foreign soil for ratings, as they did the MH 370 disaster, they’ll be all over it. Keeping a watchful eye on government hearings purely for the sake of a little thing like oversight and accountability is not enough. As far as politically “shaming” his network into covering an issue, it all depends on who is having the “temper tantrums” and doing the “shaming”, however (natch):
Carter asked if the network, which has been criticized for its oversight of climate change, might devote more live airtime to the subject.
“Climate change is one of those stories that deserves more attention, that we all talk about,” Zucker said, “but we haven’t figured out how to engage the audience in that story in a meaningful way. When we do do those stories, there does tend to be a tremendous amount of lack of interest on the audience’s part.”
Don’t ever change, CNN. Please don’t ever change.