Erin Burnett On The Personality Of Her New CNN Program: Accessible, With a Point of View

By Alex Weprin 

Will TV news be able to adapt to a generation that gets their news in 140 character bursts? For CNN’s newest anchor Erin Burnett, getting those younger news consumers to turn back to TV is high on her priority list.

“I believe that people who are under the age of the nightly news demos–which is 60-plus–care about news,” Burnett tells TVNewser. “Given their TV purchases and their media consumption,  I think the facts prove that they do [watch TV], So the thing would be how to get them to consume news via television again.”

Burnett told the AP that her show would be a modern take on the evening news programs. By tweaking the format to become more attuned to what younger viewers are looking for in the programs they watch, CNN is hoping to lure some of them back to the cable box.

“I think a modern nightly news–I hope this is what it means because it is who I am–means a more causal delivery, I think it is very accessible,” Burnett says. “I think viewers know that people on TV are human and fallible, in a way that we didn’t even 15 years ago when there was still these gods out there.”

Burnett says she will will embrace CNN’s recent mantra of being opinionated without partisan, leaving polemics to other channels:

“There is demand for polemic opinion, we all know it, we see it everywhere, we see it succeed, I also think there is demand for personality and information together, and that is what we are trying to do,” Burnett says. “Do 1000% of the reporting that you always do, but let your personality come through and have a point of view. A point of view on what is fair and isn’t fair, a point of  view on what stories should be covered or you believe in.”

The show will not be limited in focus, and will cover a wide spectrum of issues. Given her background at CNBC and Bloomberg however, economic reporting is still close to Burnett’s heart. Her hope is to take financial news and maker it accessible to the average viewer.

“CNBC and Bloomberg and Fox Business News are great for investors play-by-play during the day, and that is how they define themselves,” Burnett says. “My goal is to cover [business] the best that it is covered in general news.”

At CNN, Burnett also has the benefit of being the lead-in for Anderson Cooper at 8 PM and the lead-out 10 PM.

“Anderson and I have a real chemistry and a connection, we are symbiotic,” Burnett says. “I think the shows have some really key things in common, and hopefully will appeal to some of the same people.”

Burnett argues that the name of her new program “OutFront,” is something for her and her staff to live up to.

“In terms of what we do, the name of our show really is a mission statement in terms of who we are and what we are going to do,” she says.