Around the world, millions viewers get updates on the latest world-changing events from the Cable News Network. Better known as CNN, this key cable network has been broadcasting news stories continually for more than thirty years. CNN has changed the way that people get news, and it continues to set many trends in news broadcasting.
Well-known media and television visionary Ted Turner launched CNN in 1980 with the help of twenty-five other investors. The network’s first broadcast was of Turner explaining the purpose of the channel, which is to provide news coverage of the world’s most important events twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. CNN was the first television news channel to broadcast only news, and since its launch, many other channels have tried to mimic the success of CNN with their own twenty-four-news programming. Competitors of note that were inspired at least in part by CNN include MSNBC and FOX News.
After Turner’s introduction of the network to its viewing audience at 5 p.m. on June 1, 1980, programming began immediately. Dave Walker and Lois Hart were the featured anchors on the network’s very first newscast. Turner based CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, with other significant headquarters in major U.S. cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
In addition to traditional news broadcasts, CNN programming includes a number of different interview programs, television news magazine shows, investigative reports and much more, all of which lend their own unique perspective to reporting the days’ stories. As a result, viewers enjoy well-rounded coverage of events and an in-depth analysis of current events that was not possible on TV prior to CNN’s launch.
Because it is a cable news channel and is not available for free like the major U.S. broadcast networks of ABC, CBS and NBC, CNN was by no means a leader in news ratings for several years. Nevertheless, the network was able to set a number of milestones in its earliest years. When Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, CNN was the sole television network to provide a live broadcast of the launch and its aftermath. CNN was also one of the first networks to broadcast ongoing coverage of the rescue of Baby Jessica from a well in Texas in 1987. This set the stage for the continuous coverage and analysis of real-time events that would become the staple of CNN and other cable news networks in the years ahead.
Under Tom Johnson’s leadership from 1990–2000, CNN solidified its reputation as one of the most trusted news programmers in the world. This was due in large measure to the fact that CNN was the first network to broadcast live from inside Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. CNN’s success continued into the beginning of the twenty-first century, when it became the first news broadcaster to break the news of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Although ratings have declined in recent years, with major competitor FOX News capturing a large portion of CNN’s ratings, CNN remains one of the most respected news networks on the planet. It continues to set many trends, and it has launched numerous sister networks. These sister networks include:
• CNN Airport Network — provides news coverage to travelers in most U.S. airports.
• CNN en Español — Spanish language version of CNN
• HLN — provider of news programming that focuses on opinion, criminal activities and entertainment
• CNN International — English-language channel that airs current international news stories
KEY PROGRAMS AND PERSONALITIES
Over the years, CNN has made household names out of several programs and personalities. Here are some well-known CNN shows and personalities both past and present:
• Capital Gang (1988–2005) — discussed the political news of the week with Pat Buchanan, Mark Shields, Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Margaret Carlson, Mona Charen, and Margaret Warner
• Larry King Live (1985–2010 — interview show with host Larry King that has been CNN’s most-watched program
• Anderson Cooper 360° — daily prime-time news program anchored by Anderson Cooper
• The Situation Room — broadcasts headline stories that particularly emphasize human-interest, political and security matters; Wolf Blitzer hosts
• Piers Morgan Tonight — nightly interview program hosted by Piers Morgan