CNN Finding that Primetime Success is Elusive

By Andrew Gauthier 

Associated Press

The latest rough patch for CNN illustrates the two contradictions at the network’s heart.

In a brutal time for the news business, CNN is one of the few media organizations thriving while its most visible part in the United States –prime-time on the flagship network — is hurting. The company has built its brand on nonpartisan reporting, while CNN’s audience tilts Democratic as much or more as Fox News Channel’s audience is Republican.

CNN’s average prime-time audience was third behind Fox and MSNBC during October, and it was even eclipsed by sister network HLN among younger viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. Perhaps more ominous, CNN finished well behind Fox when big news was breaking– Election Night and the Fort Hood massacre. Big stories usually sent viewers flocking to CNN.

Prime-time success isn’t a new problem in a place that has long lived and died by the news cycle, to which former hosts such as Aaron Brown, Connie Chung and Paula Zahn can attest. It seems more acute because CNN’s younger rivals were faster in figuring out a way to make appointment viewing at night. More…