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Come Saturday Morning: Free Advice for CNN — Just Go with CNN International

Nestled in this story on the resignation CNN chief Jim Walton, we find this passage (emphases mine):

Walton built the company into a profitable international news organization in his 10 years as president of CNN Worldwide, and said it is on track for record profits this year. But the U.S. network is the most visible part of the business and is now entrenched in third place behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC in prime time.

How can CNN be on track for record profits this year if it’s stuck in third place with an ever-smaller share of the ad revenue pie, after nearly two decades of onslaught by the internet on the revenue streams of both broadcast and cable TV?

Here’s a clue: The “Worldwide” in “CNN Worldwide”.

As anyone who’s ever seen it knows, CNN International — which is the version of CNN that people outside the US get to see — is much, much better than domestic CNN. (Which of course is why conservatives hate it and attack it and often, subtly or otherwise, try to depict it as un-American.) Then again, it has to be — it’s competing for eyeballs in a worldwide audience that has long been accustomed to quality reporting from the BBC World Service and other top-flight, long-established news programs. The people in that audience won’t tolerate the mind-numbing swill that the Big Three Broadcast and Big Three Cable networks feed their US audiences. And, as CNN has now found, fewer Americans will put up with it, now that MSNBC’s and CurrentTV’s given them a teeny taste of what’s possible.

So here’s my suggestion for CNN Worldwide: Dump CNN and just put CNN International in its place for all domestic news; maybe you can bring a few of the better reporters, like Anderson Cooper, over to International to help cover American news, but please don’t change or water down the CNN International style. You’ll save a ton of money, your ratings will stay steady if not shoot upward, and Americans in general will be better informed.

You’re welcome.

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