Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Breaking News

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I don’t mean sudden and important updates.

Watching the CNN coverage of Malaysian Flight 370, I slowly became more interested in the commercial breaks than the news reports. For instance, the commercial break that happened at 23:47 PST on Friday, March 21, 2014, lasted about four minutes. The following spots played:

AXA Financial Advisors
Phillips Probiotics
UPS/America’s Natural Gas
GEICO
GEICO
Lumber Liquidators
Dish Network
Credit Karma
Christian Mingle

The next break came at 23:55 PST and lasted four minutes. Those spots were:

Microsoft
Liberty Mutual
Alka Seltzer
IHOP
Exxon Valdez TV Special
Centennial Hyundai (non-network spot)
Cub Cadet
CNN/Anderson Cooper Promo
Anthony Bourdain Promo
ChicagoLand Promo

There was about four minutes of news between each break. There are eight breaks like this each hour. No doubt, CNN provides a valuable service. But a compelling story like the disappearance of a modern jet airliner with 239 souls onboard certainly draws more eyeballs to those commercials which is something I’m sure neither the network or the advertisers mind.

We’ve all known that ads pay for news; that advertising is more important than news. News purists like to think it’s the other way around, but it’s not. However, there is something skeezy about the concentration of ads throughout CNN’s broadcast day during this crisis.

In April 2013, Slate Magazine produced a story called “Breaking News is Broken”. I’ll be posting more later about “Breaking News” . But I wanted to make sure that I mentioned something about the money first.

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Written by Interviewer

March 22, 2014 at 14:13

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