CNN Boss Talks Programming, ‘Objective’ Nature of Network

Jeff Zucker

Topper predicts more of the same ahead - but different, as mobile gets some of the attention paid to TV ops

CNN topper Jeff Zucker’s plans for the network might be summed up by the following: Everything needs to change, but much of it is going to remain the same.

In a brief but wide-ranging interview at a summit held by Fortune magazine Tuesday, the CNN Worldwide president indicated that the cable-news network would put much of its near-term focus on both mobile assets as well as its primetime television lineup. At the same time, the executive said he was mindful of the revenue generated by CNN’s TV operations and suggested the network would strive for objectivity in its news presentation, so long as doing so wasn’t dull.

SEE ALSO: ‘Crossfire’ Isn’t On CNN Yet, But Its Hosts Are

His remarks come as CNN’s programming lineup has begun to change noticeably, with the network placing more emphasis on documentary series on weekends and delving more deeply into shallower topics, such as a stranded cruise ship or kooky animal videos.

“What I want CNN to be about is all of the news, and all of the news is not just what’s happening in Washington or in the Middle East, but it’s also about entertainment and business and sports and culture and thing that we all talk about,” Zucker said. He told the audience he dismissed an old CNN slogan that told viewers “CNN = Politics,” because he wanted viewers to turn to the network for more than a single topic.

Mobile media is gaining more importance at CNN, he said – a notion bolstered by studying how audiences used CNN information during the recent Boston Marathon bombing as well as Monday’s news about the birth of an heir to the throne in England. “We’re not going to care what screen you’re watching CNN on as long as there’s a CNN red logo on whatever asset you’re using to access us,” said Zucker.

SEE ALSO: Baby Bump? A Royal Opportunity for CNN

Even so, he was mindful of the importance of securing revenue from CNN’s distributors. “The most important thing is for us to be essential enough” to cable, satellite and telecom companies who deliver CNN to their subscribers, he said.

CNN intends to put some focus on its 10 p.m. hour in primetime, said Zucker. “We have not had a regular 10 p.m. show,” he said, noting that 10 p.m. has been used recently for a repeat of Anderson Cooper’s 8 p.m. program or some live shows featuring the anchor. “It’s obviously something we’re going to work on.”

Despite the announcement that CNN has hired noted Republican Newt Gingrich as part of its new team for a revived “Crossfire,” Zucker stated he saw value in the network staying objective in its presentation of news and opinion. The idea that CNN “didn’t have enough conservative points of view was probably a valid criticism,” the executive said, though he does not expect CNN to lose abandon its positioning as a down-the-middle presenter of news.

SEE ALSO: Al Jazeera Finally Appears Ready for U.S. Launch

Fox News Channel and MSNBC have both chosen more partisan presentations in their lineup, he said, which “does leave room for somebody to be objective, and that’s the path we’ve chosen.”

Still, said the exec best known, perhaps, for his love of programming stunts like moving Jay Leno to primetime or “super-sizing” episodes of “Friends” while at NBC, “just because you’re objective doesn’t mean you need to be boring.”

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  1. Joel says:

    These news channel are just running paid news.

  2. Joel says:

    CNN Hmm.

  3. Hahaha, he used “objective” while talking about CNN. Want to hear both sides of a debate? Watch Fox News.

  4. alnga says:

    actually it would be best if CNN went to an every other day schedule.

  5. FAIRTV says:

    It would help if Zucker knew anything about broadcast news.

  6. Michael Rahimi says:

    Sadly, CNN is moving further and further away from being a news channel, it should be renamed ENN, the Entertainment News Network. I guess that if you are not hard right or hard left, there is no room on the news channel dial for you.

  7. kmrod says:

    so give me a job.

    i keep up with current events, know a good deal of history, and after having watched a few shows on CNN know i’m at least as smart as the people they’re parading up there as “experts”.

  8. Steve from Katy says:

    When the president of PBS admitted he was a conservative, they ran him off in a hurry. In my humble opinion, CNN and the rest of MSM are infected with “group thinking liberals”. Once they get ahold of management, they become intolerant for a conservative point of view. I’ll keep watching FOX.

  9. barry1817 says:

    CNN, does that station still exist?????

  10. Jason Marquez says:

    Of course CNN doesn’t include any conservative viewpoints. Is this really newsworthy? It’s been obvious for many many years. It’s that reason that I don’t watch CNN, Communist News Network.

    • Michael Rahimi says:

      This is such a silly comment, calling CNN a Communist network is like calling MSNBC a Tea Party channel.

  11. DR. L says:

    I doubt CNN will move to the middle but it would be nice for people like me. If I had to bet thought CNN wil remain the center left news and commentary network and FOX NEWS will remain the center right news and commentary network because its more profitable to keep the same viewers than to change viewers.

  12. Diane Alden says:

    CNN has gotten rid of really GOOD reporters like Greg Hunter whose investigations of economic shenanigans among the Wall Street and government crowd did not suit the suits at CNN .. aka the media arm of the CIA. They want the usual suspect brigade of ‘conservative’ voices.. like Newt Gingrich. Please … Newt again speaks for Newt and his off the wall vision of Toeffler’s future world. Gingrich can talk about conservative issues and then turn on a DIME as he has done so often. I care not for any of that .. CNN gets rid of those reporters who challenged the status quo . and by the way whattisis over at CNN .. he is doing quite well where REAL news is being reported and does not need your govt. sponsored pop stand.

  13. The only people watching CNN are the captured audience waiting for a flight at an airport.

  14. Bill Houng says:

    It took them to decimate their audience before figuring this out??

  15. PutnamX says:

    If he thinks they are objective, then CNN = Delusional. If he and his team cannot spot the bias in CNN, how on Earth can they spot key features in any organization or issue?

  16. Gertrude McFuzz says:

    I stopped watching CNN completely after the presidential debate moderated by Candy Crowley. The fact that CNN did nothing (except congratulate her) for her being a wing man for the president was just the last straw.

  17. B. Samuel Davis says:

    CNN objective? The ONLY people who think that are CNN – to everyone else it is almost as liberal as MSNBC. The fact that an openly conservative view is still out there as unserved should mean something, especially with 40% of the population calling themselves conservative v. 20% as liberal (per Gallop).

    So an openly conservative network would be assured of success. But, if CNN was openly conservative, how would this guy show his face at cocktail parties? Better the shareholders should suffer as CNN sinks lower and lower.

  18. HarveyMushman says:

    Heavily biased. Period. Not a real news source, just a cheerleading section for the left….

  19. ForAmerica says:

    “Zucker stated he saw value in the network staying objective in its presentation of news and opinion.” You’ve got to be kidding me – staying objective. To do that don’t they have to start being objective?

  20. mrpragmatic says:

    Evidence: Candy “I’ll save you Mr. President” Crowley. She allowed herself to become part of the story in the debates, AND SHE WAS WRONG. And she shielded the president from a debate that needed to be had, but her instinctive liberalism, and her colleagues criticism of Jim Lehrer in the first debate, forced her to jump in and take sides. It was a shameful, but representative, episode of “down the middle” and “objective”.

  21. B Da Truth says:

    Note to Jeff Zucker, David Brooks is not a real Conservative and only the New York Times thinks that he is.

  22. mrpragmatic says:

    “Down the Middle”. “Objective”. I guess when you are a liberal, everything you do seems down the midde and objective. Here’s a news flash: Fox News is eating your lunch, precisely because they offer a different point of view, and it’s one that is needed. Continue to carry water for the Dems at your own peril.

  23. Pamlico says:

    Until he realizes he is not in fact ‘down the middle’ his network will continue to erode.

  24. Tom says:

    Zucker admits that CNN “…didn’t have enough conservative points of view.” which then admits that its left of center. Yet he then continues the coverup with “… he does not expect CNN to lose abandon its positioning as a DOWN-THE-MIDDLE presenter of news.”.

    Come clean Zucker!

  25. Nice that the author includes THEIR bias so openly…Zucker admits that CNN is too liberal and could use more conservative viewpoints for balance, and then the author throws in a grammatical mess of an addendum to imply that CNN is already middle of the road.

  26. Mike says:

    What many of us would like is objective reporting of subjects like what can we do to solve our massive financial debt. Obama is right that we can’t cut our way out of it…but it is even more true that we can’t tax our way out of it either. The role of Unions helping bankrupt companies like Hostess and cities like Detroit also needs to be addressed. Another point is that we have 12 million illegals primarily because of lousy Government laws and enforcement. The media enables these problems by not exposing them.

  27. butch says:

    CNN–Objective. Is that an oxymoron?…..or just for morons?

  28. hymie porkenstein says:

    and thier viewership is lowest in 40 years cause their product sucks

  29. jdk47 says:

    The problem is that CNN ISN’T a “down-the-line middle presenter of news”. It’s straight news coverage is very left-wing biased. The real problem at CNN is that they are SO left-wing from top to bottom in the newsroom that none of them recognize how left-wing they are.

  30. Joel says:

    CNN point of view eh?

  31. Jeff Zucker “just because you’re objective doesn’t mean you need to be boring.” Jeff, you are JUST boring. So is the programming on CNN. If it wasn’t for HLN playing in most airports, you wouldn’t have any viewers at all outside of the HuffPost bloggers.

  32. Herschel Smith says:

    The fact that CNN sees itself as centrist pretty much says it all. Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper. Yep.

  33. Mensa Graham says:

    A better question would be ‘does CNN have enough money?” to hire competent conservatives?

  34. Ulysses Geist says:

    “……Fox News Channel and MSNBC have both chosen more partisan presentations in their lineup, he said, which “does leave room for somebody to be objective, and that’s the path we’ve chosen.”

    That is about the funniest, most self deluded thing I have ever heard anyone say. CNN and objective in the same sentence. Pssssst, here is a hint, most people don’t believe that either. That is why they don’t watch.

  35. chuckyschmucky says:

    Leftists would rather wilt and perish than abandon their failed, un-American ideology.

    See MSNBC, Airhead America and Destroit as examples.

  36. Jay Slater says:

    Hiring one conservative ‘voice’ is a joke. CNN needs to just report the news not their reporter’s or editor’s opinions. I do not need to have some reporter slice and dice a story to the point where it seems like he is a shill for the Democratic Party. My name is Jay and I do not watch CNN.

  37. Frankie Guinle says:

    I stopped watching CNN about 25 years ago when their idea of a fair and balanced program was to have at least 3 liberals and one conservative and then the three would proceed to beat up on the lone guy/gal. They had a good time. I didn’t. Also one of their reporters was in Baghdad during the Gulf War. When he got out the Army wanted to debrief him. He refused saying it would hurt his integrity as a reporter. I thought he was an American first, reporter second and by refusing h hurt his reputation more than helped. CNN has some very unappealing on-screen personnel.

  38. NRenn says:

    C’mon, CNN has always been the bastion of liberalism. After 30+ years, they’re gonna change? Very doubtful.

  39. Arlo says:

    You would think the “boss” would be able to figure this out by their ratings. Another example of a “boss” making insane money to drive a business into the ground.

  40. LADY CON says:

    Say it ain’t so!

  41. Chicago 860 says:

    Notice Zucker wants CNN to be “about” the news. Doesn’t say it should carry the news. Sorry, I don’t think he can handle having a network that looks for truth, and certainly not a conservative POV, even though those fine radical ideas of his friends don’t work

  42. Guest says:

    CNN has already “lose abandon (sic) it’s position as a down-the-middle presenter of news.” They lost it many years ago. One reason is the very lack of conservative – or even moderate views – noted by Zucker. Although I don’t expect the new emphasis on celebrity gossip (“culture”) and sports to help CNN gain credibility.

  43. Angela says:

    The other networks live in hatred and fear of Fox, but they continue to do the exact opposite and allow their biases to color every story, even in deciding what stories make the cut. This is not news. If they want to compete, they’ll change. If not, they’ll eventually die – and I won’t care one bit.

  44. Nonsenseyousay says:

    “does leave room for somebody to be objective, and that’s the path we’ve chosen.”

    Objectivity will require firing about 99% of your on air talent. Please let us know when that will happen.

  45. Yeeeech says:

    Yes, you missed: EPA targeting ranchers and farmers for harassment over water use; HHS coercing hospital chains and insurance companies to pay for ACA education programming; Press Secretary lying to the media (repeatedly); Secretary of State covering up sex scandal in Belgium; FBI not investigating harassment of conservative groups by IRS; DOE doing special deals with Obama supporters in green energy to the tune of billions of tax payer money; 36 Czars and thousands of new regulations they have implemented; DOE Director using false emails to conduct business out of sight; DHS purchasing tens of millions of rounds of ammunition and working on programs to militarize local police; extravagant lifestyle and spending of Obama Administration during the worst economic period since the Great Depression.

  46. Laura says:

    Here is a HUGE hint for the CNN brass. When CNN was a real news network, no one really knew what Bernard Shaw’s politics were.He was a journalist.What they have now are a collection of bad joke punch lines.No one cares what their political agenda is and no viewer should have to.I cancelled my CNN subscription when it became apparent that I could get my daily dose of Obama cheer leading directly from his web site, should I care to have any.

  47. Judith Graetz says:

    All Jews are lying sickening scum???? What a kind loving thing to say. As a Jewish Conservative, I will overlook your antisemitic comment as I have done for countless amounts of people of your persuasion.

  48. CCT says:

    Down the middle? What a joke!

    CNN is so liberal that you can only watch it with your left eye.

  49. Dan StPeter says:

    In time, CNN will reap what it has sowed…the American people are finally comprehending the depth to which our MSM organizations failed to properly vet this imitation American in our Oval Office…Hey Jeff, keep pimping the propaganda…no normal human believes a damn thing you broadcast anyway.

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