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Surviving the Second CNN Revolution

On a recent post I commented about CNN’s updated news crawl being a shill for their Twitter and other online efforts. Turns out, I was more right than I knew. Not only were they in the midst of a heated competition with their worthy opponent Ashton Kutcher to see who could reach a million followers first, but they were simultaneously reeling from the news that they were now, for the first time in their existence, ranked THIRD in viewership behind Fox and MSNBC!

Ashton beat them to the mil, but as Rick Sanchez so magnanimously said, “If you counted everything we do on Twitter we really beat him, but it’s all good.” or something empowering like that.

Normally I’d ignore his good sportsmanship except that I also read an article in Variety that said nearly the same thing. CNN spun their 3rd place finish in prime time into an ad for their multi-channel capability:

“Primetime is most meaningful to entertainment networks,” says CNN U.S. prexy Jonathan Klein, noting that his channel sells its commercial time in a more bundled, multiplatform way that differs from most cable networks, which deal more in the typical currency of primetime ratings points.

And that’s why, no doubt, during the middle of the day the other Friday, they actually showed Ed Henry interviewing somebody on CNN-Radio on CNN cable TV. There he was, boom mike dangling in front of his face, CNN Radio sign strategically positioned, except he was on the TV.

Multi-Channel is as multi-channel does. So CNN aims for the Twitter stratosphere,  creates partnerships with Facebook, takes on Talk Radio (“We’ll fight them on the fields, we’ll fight them on the shores, we’ll fight them in the air!”).

Or, to quote a more controversial character than old Mr. Churchill, “Get ther the fustest with the mustest.” (Be the first to guess who said that one and I’ll send you a Claxton Fruit Cake!)

We are watching CNN, the people who transformed television news by replacing the tyrannical scheduled reporting cycle (anybody remember the 6:00 News?) with getting their cameras wherever news was happening as it was happening (and using local network reporters when they didn’t have one of their own in place) transform news again. This time, they’re replacing the tyranny of platform exclusivity with the freedom of device. Klein continues:

“We sell against all of our platforms — TV, online, international — and it’s hard to say there’s one particular daypart or hour of the day that matters more,” says Klein… Our competition doesn’t have the resources to cover the news the way we do. They’ve actually ceded news coverage to us.”

Convergence doesn’t just happen. CNN is using their core platforms to advertise and drive their customers to their other platforms including Time Magazine. It’s a massive multi-channel marketing effort, it’s intrusive, and apparently, it’s working:  Follow us on Twitter — over a million Twitterers can’t be wrong!.

Recognizing, as CNN’s John King said, that they are “in the word business”, CNN is stuffing those words wherever they can … and monetizing their words along the way. Newspapers should take note:  you’re all in the “word biz” — not the dead tree biz or the radio wave business or the cathode ray business or the pixel business.

Of the last twenty or so articles I read from the NY Times, none of them were on newspaper, and I found them via Digg, Google News, and in emails from friends. The last radio program I listened to was on my computer. The last time I got a story from CNN I read it on my phone.

CNN won the first digital news revolution. They overthrew the powers that be and changed everything. Now that they’re the underdogs again, it looks like they’re sticking it to the man one more time — only this time, the man is Rupert Murdoch.

So, with CNN working hard to become the multi-channel newsroom of the next great era in journalism, with all their vaunted commitment to new media and the instant-dissemniation nature of Twitter, can someone please explain to me why in the last 24 hours, CNNBRK, their twitter account with 1,339,599 followers, had only two breaking news stories?


Pandas and Beavers and White Guys, oh my!

I like “The Ladders” job site. I used it, even after I saw their ad on TV. You know the one — there’s an average looking white guy playing tennis, when suddenly he’s deluged with people running on the court to play, too. The line is “When you let everybody play… nobody wins.”

I didn’t see the problem with the ad until recently when a friend of mine, Laura, pointed out that the “everybody” in the commercial were women, people of color, people who were overweight, or sloppily dressed, or older, or… well, basically, anyone who wasn’t our middle aged, white male hero. It’s a good commercial, centered on a great metaphor, as long as you don’t look past that metaphor at the reality of the institutional discrimination that suffuses every frame.

How did I miss it? Especially because, as an overweight, scruffy-faced, frequently long-haired and usually sloppily dressed guy, I’m clearly one of the undesirables. Come to think of it, my scattered mixed bag of experience probably makes me one of the undesirables on the job search front, too. CEO Mark Cendella seems to have missed it to, judging from his response on, which focuses on the elitism of the $100K salary threshold as opposed to the casting in the commercial. (Please note: Response no longer available.)

On the other hand, I was instantly offended by the Sales Genie commercials, both the “Panda” commercialthat aired on this year’s Super Bowl and the “Indian Salesman” that aired during last year’s Super Bowl. And while I clearly wasn’t alone, with some bloggers jumping on the commercials right away, there seemed to be a lack of outrage from interest groups, publications, the news and the rest of the powers that be.

Now, finally, compare all three of these ads to the Danica Patrick GoDaddy ad that was banned from running on the same Super Bowl. An off-color but not explicit extended beaver joke that winked at pop stars and their “accidental” exposures to get noticed when a good domain will do. Even though the full beaver ad never even ran on TV, it was met with shock, outrage and vitriol.

Why am I dragging this out now, months after the ads started running? Because I was watching a dvr’d show the other day when my 3 1/2 year old daughter came in just after the Sale Genie Indian Salesman ad ran. I started thinking about racism, sexism, elitism, and all the other isms that get bandied about all the time and wondered what I would have answered my daughter if she asked me about the funny man with the funny accent in the commercial.

Can someone please explain to me why the GoDaddy commercial gets banned, while the SalesGenie and The Ladders ads don’t?