CNN’s Push to “Seize the Middle Ground”

By SteveK Comment

brown_6-9.JPGYesterday, TVNewser highlighted the heated quotes between the heads of CNN and MSNBC in Matea Gold’s story about CNN’s political coverage. Another side of the article is the push by CNN to “seize the middle ground,” in this election season.

“The mood of the country today I think is aggressively independent,” said CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein. “The conventional wisdom up until now has been the more opinionated the better. Our competitors are doing that…We’ve really tried hard to differentiate ourselves as the real news network.”

One of the moves to focus on “real news” has been the program, “CNN Election Center,” anchored by Campbell Brown since March. The 8pmET program goes head-to-head with The O’Reilly Factor on FNC and Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. “I believe there is an audience that wants more than to just have their own opinions validated,” says Brown.

“Ratings are up 34% over the same period last year, not including primary night coverage, though the show still lags behind its competitors,” writes Gold.

A former CNN anchor doesn’t think the tactic will work.

“Cable viewers seem to want big, broad, ideological personalities,” said Aaron Brown, in the article. “It’s an opinion-driven medium. In November, the game resets, and I’m not sure it resets in a way that’s advantageous to CNN.”

Brown now anchors PBS’ Wide Angle.

“The secret for us has been weaning ourselves from tabloid stories,” Klein said. “Why else would you go to a news channel, if not to better inform yourself?”