The Quality Debate: Reader Reactions

By Brian 

Monday’s comments from a CNN insider about quality and crap provoked dozens of responses. (Many, many e-mailers said CNN’s problems lie in its liberal bias.) And I thought this short comment was especially interesting: “Klein’s ‘quality’ is only to keep up ad pricing despite whether ratings fall or rise.” Here are four comments, with another six after the jump…

> “As a NYC CNN employee, I can tell you that we all had very high hopes at the beginning at every level from assistants to anchors, unfortunately that is no longer the case. The moral sucks; people are worried. Klein said he wanted “quality” — he said it and is still saying it to anyone who’ll listen, but his actions and decisions are the opposite. He’s taken “quality” shows and turned them into crap. There is no quality left, just the lust for ratings, winning at all and cost, hypocrisy at the highest level! Never have so many people wanted and hoped for a difference, but unfortunately is difference is demoralization.”

> “Depends on the definition of quality, I guess — but as a former network newsguy who got out and went on to other kinds of TV — it is clear that what the audience wants is NOT traditional journalistic quality. They have proven it with their remotes.”

> “I too had high hopes for Jon Klein. But looking at the past couple of weeks, I’ve been disappointed. Pre-empting NewsNight for People in the News was stupid, as is the Security Watch concept (I saw an ad today that seemed to want to strike fear within my heart that dirty bombs could be in my “town.” Unlikely.)”

> “It’s true, viewers like crap. Just look at what entertainment show people watch and how many good shows die. Viewers don’t like to think they like to see other’s think and enjoy being patronized. They like simple things with simple concepts. Everything is either black or white. THERE IS NO GREY!!! Viewers like attitude and those who cut against the grain even if they disagree with everthing they do or say.”

> “So because he says so, we are all to accept the fact that Fox is in fact “crap”. Who died and made him judge of all of TV programming? If he wants to discuss “crap”, why doesn’t he attack all of the entertainment/Hollywood-oriented programs (the Entertainment Tonight genre), the Jerry Springer/Maury-type talk shows, afternoon soap operas and game shows? Who is he kidding? If he’s that erudite, let him park himself in front of PBS and watch that the rest of his life.”

> “Yes, many (most?) viewers prefer crap to quality, and Fox is the Crap Queen among cable news. CNN’s problem isn’t insufficient coverage of crap, however. The problem is CNN’s liberal bias, which CNN is either too blind to see or too stubborn to abandon. Fox is clearly biased in the cheerleading that is done on behalf of the Republican Party and Pres. Bush, but they do allow dissent. CNN does not.”

> “…Let’s be clear — once network news became a series of profit centers, how could the game not change? And there’s only so much sanctimonious crying network staffers can reasonably engage in when, if they are honest, they will acknowledge that the kind of money their business generates is the reason they make far more than most Americans. So a) no, journalistic quality doesn’t matter and b) I don’t see a lot of network folks putting their concerns into action by seeking less tarnished (but lower paying) jobs.”

> “I totally agree with the emailer who said that CNN is in the business of ratings, not quality. I have a vision of Ailes and Klein in an alley somewhere, standing around, drinking beer and having a pissing contest. Both Fox and CNN are giving Entertainment Tonight a run for it’s money. It seems that the people who really give a damn about the news (the ‘real’ news, not Michael and Martha) have found other sources, the internet, the BBC, Al Jazeera, etc., and have given up on the “in depth, quality” of the MSM.”

> “I’m not turned off by quality. What I am turned off by is shouting matches. Don’t want to listen to them and don’t. That’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of Newsnight – no shouting m matches there.”

> “As a CNN viewer I can understand why the Atlanta insider is concerned. I would prefer a quality package that represents both sides fairly, but it seems the ratings are in the “crap” that nobody has to think about. Nancy Grace is pure trash that only further tarnishes the CNN Brand. CNN needs to go for quality, intersesting pieces, and stop playing them over and over and over….In the end quality will pay off, but it will take time.”