Watching the back and forth of media critics turning on CNN is better than a tennis match. The cable network got in trouble last week for covering the Zimmerman trial and relegating the events in Egypt to a sidebar. Media critic Jay Rosen was taken to task by Jack Shafer in Reuters who praised CNN’s tabloid television, noting that we shouldn’t blame CNN for finally having a strategy, that tabloid television serves the networks ratings, and also stands in for civics lessons:
To be fair, the best tabloid TV contains more nourishment than any burger and fries platter, even if it will always be déclassé… Most of what a layman needs to know about police investigations, police interrogations, witness rights, evidentiary standards, jury selection, and courtroom strategy can be found in Grace’s shriekings and those of her commentators. A week’s worth of her Zimmerman coverage probably contains as much civic education as any half-dozen Frontline documentaries on PBS.
I usually stand in Rosen’s corner when he takes journalists to task, but in the case of CNN, I’m leaning the other way. But not because I think tabloid television in any way serves the public. It’s more because I’m excited to watch cable news networks hang themselves. They don’t do breaking news very well anymore — watching the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings was painful — so let them play with ‘if it bleeds, it leads.” Yes, CNN used to be something better, maybe, but now it’s not. Read more