CNN, people, and policy

Listening to a BBC world service discussion of the impact of CNN on news and, if it is not too grand, on the world.

There was a time not too long ago when you didn’t see images like this attached to stories like this so quickly.

Top.Mosque.Blast.Ap

An interviewee who was himself a BBC journalist, but had done research on the phenomenon of 24hr news noted that, in its early phase, while CNN was listened too by the politicians as additional information, it did not make policy. However, he thought now that while its principle effect on policy was as a kind of litmus test, that it might also influence policy. Not, he argued that it would change policy (which is what most people assume (or fear)), but that its big impact was creating policy where there was none.
i.e, that in areas or issues where there was no policy, then CNN might make that new policy.

My point in blogging about this, is that it tells us something about public opinion: if people have a reaction to vision from the news, and politicians are not already prepared with a script to explain it away, then policy can be born… for better or worse.

But there seems to be a small window for this effect. The reason CNN-emotion doesn’t usually change policy, it seems to me, is that the reaction is brief. It decays over a week or so, and is then forgotten. Ask people what happened 10 days ago, and they can’t tell you. And there is also a sort of “immunity” developed, so seeing the same news again won’t cause a new reaction.

So, if you want to change the world, and you work at CNN, pick a topic that is not already within policy, get people to react with a shock-jock news item, and then create a funnel to get that action into policy within a week or two.
I’m listening to The Raven (Long Version) from the album “Tales Of Mystery And Imagination” by The Alan Parsons Project.

[posted with ecto]

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