GSU Students Tour CNN

I had the opportunity to tour CNN with my Advanced Media Writing class at Georgia State Univerity. Our tour began on March 7 at 9:30. On this bright Tuesday morning, our class gathered at the giant CNN sign, where we met Monte Platt, CNN’s Digital Editor. After being ushered through two security checkpoints, we convened in the atrium to discuss the history of the building that is now home to four networks: CNN, CNN International, CNN Español, and HLN. Built in the 1980’s, the massive structure was intended to house the world’s first and only indoor amusement park. In the 1990’s, CNN relocated from their location in Techwood to its current location off of Marietta Street in Downtown Atlanta.

Our tour began in the newsroom, where domestic and international reports write, discuss, and create content. The room is filled with computers and the walls are lined with huge screens that display headlines from all over the world. CNN uses an algorithm to determine which trending stories are the most relevant. Platt explains, “These analytics measure how long people are staying on stories, and what topics they are searching for on the Internet. We use these to gauge reader interest and while these numbers help us shape our coverage, they don’t determine. We’re not going to spend a lot of time and resources on stories that no one seems to be interested in, but if they’re important stories we WILL write about them.”

Next, we observed the Control Room. With seconds before going on the air, one of the women working the control panel was scrambling to confirm the correct pronunciation of a speaker’s name.  It was exhilarating to see the news being created in real time. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that a newscast goes smoothly.

I enjoyed the high-energy environment of the Control Room, but I see myself more in the newsroom. I already immerse myself in the news, but being in the CNN newsroom was the stuff of my dreams. Being informed of all the happenings, both local and internationally, is vitally important to producing well-rounded news coverage. I hope to earn an internship this summer working for CNN.

In times of unreliable media, I believe that CNN offers its viewers comprehensive coverage of events. However, they tend to have a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to breaking news. Often, stories are reported on live, before all the details are known. While I do not that they purposefully publish incomplete content, they are operating inside a 24-hour news cycle.

With the rise of digital media, people expect up-to-date content to be published all day. While Trump has done his fair share to fill that news hole with his outlandish remarks and tone-deaf rapport with the press, there are still gaps. I took the biggest issue with CNN’s coverage of the Malaysia Plane Disappearance. After a certain point, we knew all we could and everything else was simply speculation. It was at this point that CNN chose to feature a psychic on their program. They interviewed Lisa Williams, a psychic in California, “I do believe that it actually crashed and I see a lot of trees . . . ” Williams said. “I also believe there was a hijacking.”

This is absolute nonsense. I realize that some days are slower than others in the news, but there are plenty of other issues that need airtime, like missing minorities, climate change, and women’s rights, to name a few.

If and when I work in the news media, I hope that the purpose of my content is not simply to fill airtime, but to tell a story that needs telling.

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