Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Live, from Atlanta....It's CNN!

From the inception of television news in the late-1940s, the rockets of information being sent out were blasted from either New York or Washington. Those were the headquarters.

It was like that for over 30 years, until Ted Turner got his mitts on things.

Turner, sports owner and cable mogul, cooked up the idea for a news "super station" that would house itself not in NY or DC, but in---gulp---Atlanta!

From Atlanta a signal would be beamed that could be grabbed, via satellite, and delivered into living rooms, huts and castles across the world.

Turner called it the Cable News Network. Made sense.

CNN, as it came to be known, turns 30 years old today.

Barely five years after its birth, CNN began calling itself "The World's Most Important Network," usually via the rich baritone voice of actor James Earl Jones during station IDs.

I worked in television production at the time, and I remember one of my colleagues sniffing, "More like 'World's Most Conceited Network'!"

That may be so, but there's no questioning CNN's role in reinventing TV news.

From the moment it was founded, CNN gave viewers 24/7 access to the news of the day---both around the nation and around the world. That had never been attempted before.

This was long before the Internet pervaded our lives, so CNN had a virtual monopoly on TV news, because of its all-day, everyday format.



Ted Turner, launching CNN on June 1, 1980


Sure, stories were repeated back then. Also, the network would buy pre-packaged stories from independent journalists. Filling a 24-hour programming schedule wasn't easy. You ever hear of the term "slow news day"?

That was a CNN programmer's nightmare, because a slow news day really WAS a slow...news...DAY. All day.

CNN still commands a big audience, though the TV viewer pie has been sliced razor thin over the years. Its website, CNN.com, is easy to type and just a few keystrokes away.

And, I'm not ashamed to admit, CNN.com is a site of choice when I try to decide what to write about on this little blog.

CNN was less than a year old when it had its first big, breaking story: the shooting of former Beatles star John Lennon on December 8, 1980.

A little over three months later, CNN was among the first to report the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Turner, never known to be a hands-off kind of guy (he once tried to manage his Atlanta Braves but was halted after one game), wisely stayed out of the way, for the most part, while CNN learned to crawl then walk.

CNN is 30. The way we get our news has never been the same since the network's birth.

So how will the network continue to evolve?

Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment

As you will...