While the news channel has numerous affiliates, CNN primarily broadcasts from the Time Warner Center in New York City, and studios in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, its headquarters at the CNN Center in Atlanta is only used for weekend programming. CNN is sometimes referred to as CNN/U.S. to distinguish the American channel from its international sister network, CNN International. As of August 2010, CNN is available in over 100 million U.S. households. Broadcast coverage of the U.S. channel extends to over 890,000 American hotel rooms, as well as carriage on cable and satellite providers throughout Canada. Globally, CNN programming airs through CNN International, which can be seen by viewers in over 212 countries and territories.
As of February 2015, CNN is available to approximately 96,289,000 cable, satellite, and telco television households (82.7% of households with at least one television set) in the United States.
The Cable News Network was launched at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 1, 1980. After an introduction by Ted Turner, the husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored the channel's first newscast.Burt Reinhardt, the executive vice president of CNN at its launch, hired most of the channel's first 200 employees, including the network's first news anchor, Bernard Shaw.
Since its debut, CNN has expanded its reach to a number of cable and satellite television providers, several websites, and specialized closed-circuit channels (such as CNN Airport). The company has 36 bureaus (10 domestic, 26 international), more than 900 affiliated local stations (which also receive news and features content via the video newswire service CNN Newsource), and several regional and foreign-language networks around the world. The channel's success made a bona-fide mogul of founder Ted Turner and set the stage for conglomerate Time Warner's eventual acquisition of the Turner Broadcasting System in 1996.
A companion channel, CNN2, was launched on January 1, 1982 and featured a continuous 24-hour cycle of 30-minute news broadcasts. The channel, which later became known as CNN Headline News and is now known as simply HLN, eventually focused on live news coverage supplemented by personality-based programs during the evening and primetime hours.
On October 14, 1987, Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old toddler, fell down a well in Midland, Texas. CNN quickly reported on the story, and the event helped make its name. The New York Times ran a retrospective article in 1995 on the impact of live video news:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture is worth many times that, and a live moving picture makes an emotional connection that goes deeper than logic and lasts well beyond the actual event. This was before correspondents reported live from the enemy capital while American bombs were falling. Before Saddam Hussein held a surreal press conference with a few of the hundreds of Americans he was holding hostage. Before the nation watched, riveted but powerless, as Los Angeles was looted and burned. Before O. J. Simpson took a slow ride in a white Bronco, and before everyone close to his case had an agent and a book contract. This was uncharted territory just a short time ago.
The first Persian Gulf War in 1991 was a watershed event for CNN that catapulted the channel past the "Big Three" American networks for the first time in its history, largely due to an unprecedented, historical scoop: CNN was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraq during the initial hours of the Coalition bombing campaign, with live reports from the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad by reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman, Peter Arnett and Charles Jaco.
The moment when bombing began was announced on CNN by Bernard Shaw on January 16, 1991, as follows:
This is Bernie Shaw. Something is happening outside. ... Peter Arnett, join me here. Let's describe to our viewers what we're seeing... The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. ... We're seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky.
Because it was unable to immediately broadcast live pictures from Baghdad, CNN's coverage of the initial hours of the Gulf War had the dramatic feel of a radio broadcast – and was compared to legendary CBS news anchor Edward R. Murrow's gripping live radio reports of the German bombing of London during World War II. Despite the lack of live pictures, CNN's coverage was carried by television stations and networks around the world, resulting in CNN being watched by over a billion viewers worldwide – a feat that led to the subsequent creation of CNN International.
The Gulf War experience brought CNN some much sought-after legitimacy and made household names of previously obscure reporters. Many of these reporters now comprise CNN's "old guard." Bernard Shaw became CNN's chief anchor until his retirement in 2001. Others include then-Pentagon correspondent Wolf Blitzer (now host of The Situation Room) and international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour's presence in Iraq was caricatured by actress Nora Dunn in the role of the ruthless reporter Adriana Cruz in the 1999 film Three Kings. Time Warner-owned sister network HBO later produced a television movie, Live from Baghdad, about CNN's coverage of the first Gulf War.
Coverage of the first Gulf War and other crises of the early 1990s (particularly the infamous Battle of Mogadishu) led officials at the Pentagon to coin the term "the CNN effect" to describe the perceived impact of real time, 24-hour news coverage on the decision-making processes of the American government.
September 11 attacks
CNN was the first cable news channel to break the news of the September 11 attacks.AnchorCarol Lin was on the air to deliver the first public report of the event. She broke into a commercial at 8:49 a.m. Eastern Time that morning and said:
This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
Sean Murtagh, CNN vice president of finance and administration, was the first network employee on the air. He called into CNN Center from his office at CNN's New York City bureau and reported that a commercial jet had hit the Trade Center.
Daryn Kagan and Leon Harris were live on the air just after 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time as the second plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center and through an interview with CNN correspondent David Ensor, reported the news that U.S. officials determined "that this is a terrorist act." Later, Aaron Brown anchored through the day and night as the attacks unfolded. Brown had just joined CNN from ABC to serve as the breaking news anchor.
Paula Zahn assisted in the September 11, 2001, coverage on her first day as a CNN reporter, a fact that she mentioned as a guest clue presenter on a 2005 episode of Jeopardy!.
Leading up to the 2008 U.S. presidential election, CNN devoted large amounts of its coverage to politics, including hosting candidate debates during the Democratic and Republican primary seasons. On June 3 and 5, CNN teamed up with Saint Anselm College to sponsor the New Hampshire Republican and Democratic Debates. Later in 2007, the channel hosted the first CNN-YouTube presidential debates, a non-traditional format where viewers were invited to pre-submit questions over the internet via the YouTube video-sharing service. In 2008, CNN partnered with the Los Angeles Times to host two primary debates leading up to its coverage of Super Tuesday. CNN's debate and election night coverage led to its highest ratings of the year, with January 2008 viewership averaging 1.1 million viewers, a 41% increase over the previous year.
Since the cancellation of Piers Morgan Tonight, the 9 p.m. Eastern time slot has been filled by factual programs and documentary series, introducing new series for the 2014-15 season such as John Walsh's The Hunt, This is Life with Lisa Ling, and Mike Rowe's Somebody's Gotta Do It. Jeff Zucker explained that this new lineup was intended to shift CNN away from a reliance on pundit-oriented programs, and attract younger demographics to the network. Despite this, Zucker emphasized a continuing commitment to news programming, especially during breaking news events (where the 9 p.m. hour can be pre-empted for special coverage). These changes coincided with the introduction of a new imaging campaign for the network, featuring the slogan "Go there".
CNN began broadcasting in the high definition1080i resolution format in September 2007. This format is now standard for CNN and is available on all major cable and satellite providers.
The CNN Election Express bus, used for broadcasts.
CNN's political coverage in HD was first given mobility by the introduction of the CNN Election Express bus in October 2007. The Election Express vehicle, capable of five simultaneous HD feeds, was used for the channel's CNN-YouTube presidential debates and for presidential candidate interviews.
In December 2008, CNN introduced a comprehensive redesign of its on-air appearance, which replaced an existing style that had been used since 2004. On-air graphics took a rounded, flat look in a predominantly black, white, and red color scheme, and the introduction of a new box next to the CNN logo for displaying show logos and segment-specific graphics, rather than as a large banner above the lower-third. The redesign also replaced the scrolling ticker with a static "flipper", which could either display a feed of news headlines (both manually inserted and taken from the RSS feeds of CNN.com), or "topical" details related to a story.
CNN's next major redesign was introduced on January 10, 2011, replacing the dark, flat appearance of the 2008 look with a glossier, blue and white color scheme, and moving the secondary logo box to the opposite end of the screen. Additionally, the network began to solely produce its programming in the 16:9 aspect ratio, with standard definition feeds using a letterboxed version of the HD feed. On February 18, 2013, the "flipper" was dropped and reverted to a scrolling ticker; originally displayed as a blue background with white text, the ticker was reconfigured a day later with blue text on a white background to match the look of the 'flipper'.
On August 11, 2014, CNN introduced its most recent graphics package, dropping the glossy appearance for a flat, rectangular scheme incorporating red, white, and black colors, and the Gotham typeface. The ticker now alternates between general headlines and financial news from CNNMoney, and the secondary logo box was replaced with a smaller box below the CNN bug, which displays either the title, hashtag, or Twitter handle for the show being aired or its anchor.
An occasional spin-off of Anderson Cooper 360° that featured panel discussions on recent events led by Cooper. After being faced with irregular and inconsistent scheduling (sometimes being replaced by factual programs or reruns of the evening's earlier broadcast of AC360° in its 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time slot), it was discontinued in February 2014.
An hour-long weekday news program that focused on international headlines, and was anchored by Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes. Replaced by Legal View.
An election news program focused on the 2008 Presidential and (occasionally) Congressional races.
Both Sides with Jesse Jackson
A political talk show, hosted by civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, that aired on Sundays. Each program began with a short taped report on the topic by CNN correspondent John Bisney. The show ran from 1992 to 2000.
A weekend news and analysis program, airing live from Atlanta. Anchored by Fredricka Whitfield from 12:00–6:00 p.m. Eastern Time and Carol Lin from 6:00–11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Replaced in 2006 by CNN Newsroom Weekend.
First aired from 1982-2005, and again from 2013–2014
Crossfire was a nightly current events debate television program that aired on CNN for many years. The show's format was designed to present and challenge the opinions of a politically liberalpundit, and a conservative pundit.
Saturday night political interview program hosted by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. The show's title was changed to Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields in 1998 when Al Hunt and Mark Shields became permanent panelists. Following Evans' death in 2001, the title was changed to Novak, Hunt & Shields, which remained until its cancellation.
First Evening News
A half-hour news program was anchored by Bill Hemmer, originally airing at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time when it debuted in June 2001 before moving to 7:00 p.m. the following month, where it remained until it ended on September 10, 2001.
One of the channel's original programs from 1980. Host Sandi Freeman interviewed guests and took live telephone call-ins regarding current news events and other topics of interest. For a brief period, the program featured a live audience based in Atlanta. The program's former timeslot was later occupied by Larry King Live.
A program focusing on issues and advancements in the technological industry.
International policy interview show hosted by world affairs correspondent Ralph Begleiter, aired weekly on CNN (1994–1995) and CNN International (1994–1999). Each edition began with a story package on the subject by Begleiter, followed by a lengthy interview with international figure and ended with a brief "Reporter's Notebook" segment, featuring insider tidbits from the host's extensive travels covering global politics.
Greenfield at Large
A half-hour weeknight news analysis program that was anchored by Jeff Greenfield and based in New York City.
A weekday early afternoon newscast, airing live from Atlanta, featuring a lively look at the day's stories. Anchored by Kyra Phillips.
Live From The Headlines
Hosted by Paula Zahn, the two-hour primetime show (airing from 7:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time) debuted at the same time Zahn moved from her previous morning slot; it was later co-hosted by Anderson Cooper. The program was replaced by Paula Zahn Now in 2003.
A hard-news program anchored by Aaron Brown, which took an in-depth look at the main U.S. and international stories of the day. Was cancelled on November 5, 2005, leading to Brown's immediate resignation from CNN.
A weekend science and technology oriented program, hosted by Daniel Sieberg.
On the Story
Anchored by Ali Velshi, it was CNN's interactive "week-in-review" series featuring an in-depth look at the story behind some of the week's biggest stories. However, the show was suspended in June 2006, and was later cancelled that July.
A feature-formatted weekend program produced in conjunction with People magazine, which profiled newsmakers from the worlds of politics, sports, business, medicine and entertainment. The program aired on and was first hosted by Daryn Kagan and later by Paula Zahn.
An live hour-long program, based at the CNN Los Angeles bureau, featuring celebrity interviews and discussions on entertainment news stories. Originally hosted by Lee Leonard, the program was later hosted by Mike Douglas, who himself was replaced by Bill Tush in December 1982.
An hour-long weeknight interview program hosted by Piers Morgan (which was broadcast live on most nights, with some pre-recorded broadcasts), often featuring celebrity interviews; serving as a replacement for Larry King Live, the program ended on March 28, 2014.
Anchored by Rick Sanchez, the two-hour afternoon program featured discussions of the day's news with interaction from viewers via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Sanchez was fired from the channel after making controversial statements about Jewish people on a radio show (see Controversy for further details).
On July 27, 2012, CNN president Jim Walton announced that he was quitting, after a 30-year tenure at the network. Walton remained with CNN until the end of that year. In January 2013, former NBCUniversal president Jeff Zucker replaced Walton.
CNN launched its website, CNN.com (initially an experiment known as CNN Interactive), on August 30, 1995. The site attracted growing interest over its first decade and is now one of the most popular news websites in the world. The widespread growth of blogs, social media and user-generated content have influenced the site, and blogs in particular have focused CNN's previously scattershot online offerings, most noticeably in the development and launch of CNN Pipeline in late 2005.
In April 2009, CNN.com ranked third place among online global news sites in unique users in the U.S., according to Nielsen/NetRatings; with an increase of 11% over the previous year.
CNN Pipeline was the name of a paid subscription service, its corresponding website, and a content delivery client that provided streams of live video from up to four sources (or "pipes"), on-demand access to CNN stories and reports, and optional pop-up "news alerts" to computer users. The installable client was available to users of PCs running Microsoft Windows. There was also a browser-based "web client" that did not require installation. The service was discontinued in July 2007, and was replaced with a free streaming service.
The topical news program Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics was the first CNN program to feature a round-up of blogs in 2005. Blog coverage was expanded when Inside Politics was folded into The Situation Room (Inside Politics later returned to CNN in 2014, this time hosted by the network's chief national correspondent John King.). In 2006, CNN launched CNN Exchange and CNN iReport, initiatives designed to further introduce and centralize the impact of everything from blogging to citizen journalism within the CNN brand. CNN iReport which features user-submitted photos and video, has achieved considerable traction, with increasingly professional-looking reports filed by amateur journalists, many still in high school or college. The iReport gained more prominence when observers of the Virginia Tech shootings sent-in first hand photos of what was going on during the shootings.
In early 2008, CNN began maintaining a live streaming broadcast available to cable and satellite subscribers who receive CNN at home (a precursor to the TV Everywhere services that would become popularized by cable and satellite providers beginning with Time Warner's incorporation of the medium). CNN International is broadcast live, as part of the RealNetworks SuperPass subscription service outside the U.S. CNN also offers several RSS feeds and podcasts.
On April 18, 2008, CNN.com was targeted by Chinese hackers in retaliation for the channel's coverage on the 2008 Tibetan unrest. CNN reported that they took preventative measures after news broke of the impending attack.
The company was honored at the 2008 Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for development and implementation of an integrated and portable IP-based live, edit and store-and-forward digital news gathering (DNG) system. The first use of what would later win CNN this award was in April 2001 when CNN correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver covered, and was detained, for the release of the U.S. Navy crew of a damaged electronic surveillance plane after the Hainan Island incident. The technology consisted of a videophone produced by 7E Communications Ltd of London, UK. This DNG workflow is used today by the network to receive material worldwide using an AppleMacBook Pro, various prosumer and professional digital cameras, software from Streambox Inc., and BGAN terminals from Hughes Network Systems.
On October 24, 2009, CNN launched a new version of the CNN.com website; the revamped site included the addition of a new "sign up" option, in which users can create their own username and profile, and a new "CNN Pulse" (beta) feature, along with a new red color theme. However, most of the news stories archived on the website were deleted.
CNN also has a channel in the popular video-sharing site YouTube, but its videos can only be viewed in the United States, a source of criticism among YouTube users worldwide. In 2014, CNN launched a radio version of their popular Television programming on TuneIn Radio.
In April 2010, CNN announced via Twitter that it would launch a food blog called "Eatocracy," which will "cover all news related to food – from recalls to health issues to culture." CNN had an internet relay chat (IRC) network at chat.cnn.com. CNN placed a live chat with Benjamin Netanyahu on the network in 1998.
In October 2012, CNN formed a film division called CNN Films to distribute and produce made-for-TV and feature documentaries. Its first acquisition was a documentary entitled Girl Rising, a documentary narrated by Meryl Streep that focused on the struggles of girls' education.
In July 2014, Cumulus Media announced that it would end its partnership with ABC News Radio, and enter into a new partnership with CNN to syndicate national and international news content for its stations through Westwood One beginning in 2015, including access to a wire service, and digital content for its station websites. CNN will not use its name on-air, allowing individual stations to use its own news brands.
CNN+ (a partner channel in Spain, launched in 1999 with Sogecable)
CNNfn (financial channel, closed in December 2004)
CNN launched two specialty news channels for the American market which would later close amid competitive pressure: the sports news channel CNNSI shut down in 2002, while business news channel CNNfn shut down after nine years on the air in December 2004. CNN continues to maintain a partnership with Sports Illustrated through the sports website CNNSI.com. CNNfn's former website now redirects to money.cnn.com, a product of CNN's strategic partnership with Money magazine. Money and Sports Illustrated were both Time Warner properties until 2014, when the company's magazine division was spun off into the separate Time Inc.
In a joint study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the authors found disparate treatment by the three major cable channels of Republican and Democratic candidates during the earliest five months of presidential primaries in 2007:
The CNN programming studied tended to cast a negative light on Republican candidates – by a margin of three-to-one. Four-in-ten stories (41%) were clearly negative while just 14% were positive and 46% were neutral. The network provided negative coverage of all three main candidates with McCain faring the worst (63% negative) and Romney faring a little better than the others only because a majority of his coverage was neutral. It's not that Democrats, other than Obama, fared well on CNN either. Nearly half of the Illinois Senator's stories were positive (46%), vs. just 8% that were negative. But both Clinton and Edwards ended up with more negative than positive coverage overall. So while coverage for Democrats overall was a bit more positive than negative, that was almost all due to extremely favorable coverage for Obama.
CNN is one of the world's largest news organizations, and its international channel, CNN International is the leading international news channel in terms of viewer reach. CNN International makes extensive use of affiliated reporters that are local to, and often directly affected by, the events they are reporting. The effect is a more immediate, less detached style of on-the-ground coverage. This has done little to stem criticism, largely from Middle Eastern nations, that CNN International reports news from a pro-American perspective. This is a marked contrast to domestic criticisms that often portray CNN as having a "liberal" or "anti-American" bias.
A political cartoon titled "CNN whitewashing Bahrain dictatorship"
CNN President Walter Isaacson met with Republican Party leaders in Washington, DC in 2001 saying afterwards "I was trying to reach out to a lot of Republicans who feel that CNN has not been as open covering Republicans, and I wanted to hear their concerns," As said by CNN founder Ted Turner, "There really isn't much of a point getting some Tom, Dick or Harry off the streets to report on when we can snag a big name whom everyone identifies with. After all, it's all part of the business." However, in April 2008, Turner criticized the direction that CNN has taken. Others have echoed that criticism, especially in light of CNN's ratings declines since the late 2000s.
On April 24, 2008, beautician Liang Shubing and teacher Li Lilan sued commentator Jack Cafferty and CNN for $1.3 billion damages ($1 per person in China), in New York, for "violating the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people". This was in response to an incident during CNN's "The Situation Room" on April 9, where Cafferty stated his opinion that "[the USA] continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" despite his view that "[the Chinese leaders were] basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years". Further, amid China's Foreign Ministry demand for an apology, 14 lawyers filed a similar suit in Beijing.
In June 2009, musician M.I.A. stated she did an hour-long interview with CNN condemning the mass bombing and Tamil civilian fatalities at the hands of Government forces in Sri Lanka in 16 weeks the same year, "and they cut it down to one minute and made it about my single Paper Planes. When I went to the Grammys, I saw the same reporter from CNN, and I was like, 'Why did you do that?' And she said, 'Because you used the G-word.'" "Genocide. I guess you're not allowed to say that on CNN," raising questions concerning CNN's coverage and commitment to free speech.
On November 11, 2009, longtime CNN anchor Lou Dobbs resigned on-air after discussions with network President Jonathan Klein, who had agreed to release Dobbs from his contract "that will enable me to pursue new opportunities." He had previously expressed to Klein that he wished to go "the opinion route". Dobbs' advocacy journalism-style coverage of immigration, Obama birthers, and free trade topics has attracted controversy both to him and to CNN.
On July 7, 2010, Octavia Nasr, senior Middle East editor and a CNN journalist for 20 years, was fired after she expressed on her Twitter account admiration for a liberal-minded Muslim cleric who had recently died, casting doubts on the company's commitment to freedom of speech.
On October 1, 2010, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez was fired after remarks he made during an interview with comedian Pete Dominick on a radio show the previous day about prejudices he faced during his television career, at CNN and jokes about him by comedian Jon Stewart. Calling him a "bigot" before retracting this and describing him instead as "prejudiced" and "uninformed", the interviewer invoked Stewart's faith as an example of how Stewart was "a minority as much as you are". Sanchez stated his view that Jewish people were not an oppressed minority in America, and his view that "everybody that runs CNN is a lot like Stewart" before stating "And a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart."
In October 2011, Amber Lyon told a European news service that she had been directed by CNN to report selectively, repetitively, and falsely in order to sway public opinion in favor of direct American aggression against Iran and Syria, and that this was common practice under CNN. She subsequently reconfirmed this in detail, addressing the degraded state of journalistic ethics in an interview with American radio host Alex Jones, during which she also discussed the Bahraini episode, suggesting paid-for content was also taken from Georgia, Kazakhstan and other states, that the War on Terrorism had also been employed as a pretext to pre-empt substantive investigative journalism within the U.S., and that following the Bahrain reporting, her investigative department had been terminated and "reorganized", and her severance and employee benefits used as a threat to intimidate and attempt to purchase her subsequent silence.
Lyon had met with Tony Maddox, president of CNN International, twice about this issue in 2011 and had claimed that during the second meeting she was threatened and intimated to stop speaking on the matter. Lyon spoke heavily on RT about this, claiming that CNN reporters, headed by Maddox, have been instructed to over-cover Iran as a form of propaganda and that CNN International has been paid by the Bahraini government to produce and air news segments intentionally painting them in a positive light.
In October 2015, CNN and Facebook hosted the first 2016 Democratic Party presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. CNN conducted an online poll asking viewers to select which of the participants they believed won the debate. Despite the fact that the poll ended with Bernie Sanders holding 75% of the vote, and Hillary Clinton holding 18% of the vote, and the fact that Senator Sanders took the lead in CNN's focus group, CNN published several articles declaring Secretary Clinton as the winner of the debate. After the poll appeared on television after the debate, it was never shown again and was removed from CNN's website. Following these events, supporters of Senator Sanders have claimed that CNN attempted to bury Bernie Sanders's victory in an effort to support Hillary Clinton because of the fact that Time Warner (CNN's parent company) is Hillary Clinton's seventh largest financial backer.
Awards and honors
In 1998, CNN received the Four Freedom Award for the Freedom of Speech.