In Katrina, CNN Finds Its Voice: Jon Klein Says Network Will Be “Aggressively Seeking Answers On Behalf Of The Audience”

By Brian 

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In the Village Voice, Sydney H. Schanberg asks: “Will the reporters sustain their outrage? Will they reclaim the aggressive portion of their historical role?”

CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein says the answer is yes, at least for his network.

“It’s been an objective of ours for the whole year, to take a more muscular and assertive approach to covering the news,” Klein told TVNewser yesterday. “…Amid all the talk we’ve been doing about it, we have finally found a story where correspondents and anchors could apply it.”

He describes the approach as “less passive, more aggressively seeking answers, demanding answers,” and says it was a natural response for for the network on a story “where there was a big disconnect between what government officials were saying and what we were seeing.”

But this new voice is not going away after the television networks pack up their satellite trucks, Klein says.

“This will be a permanent hallmark of our coverage. Our voice is going to be one of aggressively demanding answers on behalf of the audience, which does not have access to a microphone or those officials.”

The network should ask questions viewers wish they could ask. And that’s something Klein stresses: CNN is asking the questions on behalf of the viewers, not voicing their own opinions.

“We are an equal opportunity offender. We have been as tough on Democrats as we have on Republicans,” he said. “…If you come to CNN you’re going to be asked tough questions — you’re not going to get away with blandishments.”

So will guests come to CNN then? Will some officials shy away? Klein thinks the best guests are willing to stand up to tough questioning.

“I’m sure extremists on either side will not like us not simply falling for their P.R. spin,” he said, “but that’s a sign that we’re doing a good job…We’ll always be fair, we just want to know the real answers.”