CNN has received a lot of negative attention over the past 24 hours for its reporting on the convictions of the Steubenville, Ohio high school students who were found guilty of raping a classmate after evidence of their crime was widely shared on social media. Most of the outrage focused on this clip:
Many felt that anchor Candy Crowley and correspondent Poppy Harlow spent too much time speculating about the damage the verdict would do to the lives of these “promising” offenders rather than just, you know, reporting on the news or discussing the gravity of the crime. Casting convicted rapists as “poor young men” whose futures have been ruined is not the best way to boost your network’s reputation as “the most trusted name in news.”
It’s damage control time for CNN.
The Cable News Network may have invented the concept of 24/7 reporting, but now the brand struggles to distinguish itself from its competitors–and beyond being terrible PR, stories like this one are not helpful for an entity that wants to be known for the quality and timeliness of its reporting. We don’t specialize in media ethics or strategy, but we’d say CNN needs to address this issue immediately by apologizing to viewers. In the future, its team might want to consider spending more time delivering real news to the public and avoid filling empty airtime with correspondents’ editorial thoughts (which no one asked for in the first place).