CNN's Two-Headed Monster
In an effort to shore up its sagging ratings, CNN has gone
to a two-anchor system.
What's the point? Does it require two people to read short
snippets off the teleprompter? Or does CNN think that any single one
of their anchors is so boring and so unable to hold our attention, that they
need to switch off to another person every other sentence? Frankly, it
recalls a cute twins act, where they finish each other's sentences.
What makes the situation even worse is that pairs of people
who are this uncomfortable with each other have rarely been seen on
In addition, while one anchor is speaking, the other seems
at a total loss as to what to do with him- or herself. Should they
look at the anchor who's speaking, look out at the audience, look at their
notes, or what? Although quite distracting, it's also almost comical
as they serially do all these things, always trying to maintain an
* * *
you haven't seen it already, check out the new multi-tasking-rich look of
CNN Headline News. It's deliberately designed to resemble a computer
screen with several windows open.
In addition to
the top right corner where the announcer resides: the bottom right corner is
a changing weather map, the lower left corner has stock market info and
short headlines, and the upper left corner has a sort of talking points
summary of what the announcer is saying, as well as added related facts.
a generational divide, isn't this a bit too busy, a bit too much
information? Bill Maher quipped that CNN is confusing data with
wisdom. I wouldn't myself go so far as to imply that CNN has ever been
giving us wisdom, but otherwise Maher's point is well-taken.
There's also the
issue of size. I have a 20 inch screen, and the announcer is squashed
into about 30-35% of it. It makes me feel like I'm watching a tiny
portable TV. When the announcer is replaced by news footage, it's even
worse, trying to make out what's going in in the tiny reduced-size screen
I guess I need
to get a big-screen TV?
Worst of all
(and maybe this was opening week tech glitches) the footage sometimes seemed
like it was cropped for a full screen, so you kept wanting to see what was
happening to the left of your view, an area cut off by the talking points
and related facts area.
need I add, are their usual full-screen size all the time.
On a positive
I did think
Chuck Roberts' contrasting collar shirt one day was snazzy-looking.
seen Smilin' Lynn Russell lately. She quit CNN.
For all I
know, younger viewers may love this look and intensity of data.
Attracting younger viewers is one of CNN's goals, since their average
viewer is 59 years old. Preliminary Nielsen data since the new
look was instituted indicate a modest improvement in this
stylistic criticisms, there is the more serious issue of CNN's recent open
courting of the conservative viewers that it feels it has been losing to Fox
News. How will this affect CNN's already not-particularly-progressive
reporting of the news? Is it true CNN's trying to hire Rush Limbaugh
to do a show?! More on this in the future.