CNN executive VP Mark Whitaker gets profiled by NPR’s David Folkenflik. Whitaker explains CNN’s newsgathering prowess, while acknowledging that when there isn’t major breaking news, the network often struggles to retain an audience.
“A big challenge for CNN now is to really decide who its audience is,” he says, “and to really focus on doing the best job possible for that audience and not think it can be all things to all people.
Some of the most interesting quotes come from Fareed Zakaria, who Whitaker champions as an example of what a good interviewer looks like. Zakaria has no qualms talking about where he sees CNN’s place in the newsgathering world:
“The people who watch Fox are not going to watch CNN. Let’s be honest,” Zakaria says. He says people watching Fox are the faithful of a specific religion attending a particularly devout church. “Our competitors should properly be The New York Times, the BBC and NPR.”
“CNN is getting smarter, and you can feel it in the stories,” Zakaria says. “You can feel it in the depth with which they’re covered, the kinds of people in terms of guests who are brought on air, the ways in which issues are discussed.”