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CNN president Jim Walton steps down (at last). What would you do with this once-impressive institution? +Jay Rosen properly says it has been ruined by the view from nowhere. I agree. It's also amazing how quickly something new and disruptive can become stuck in its ways and old. So fine: Come in and reinvent it. What is your CNN? 
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My CNN would be a domestic version of BBC World News. It would eschew phony entertainment nonsense and semi-informed "Situation Room" type garbage, and just do straight news, devoting a significant amount of time to international affairs and not just domestic political horserace nonsense over and over again. It would also do away with the warring, screaming talking heads and instead provide actual, knowledgeable experts to weigh in on complicated matters to make them understandable to average viewers. 
 
Focus on developed news stories including more world news. Still have breaking news when appropriate but it does not need to be the primary focus when new information about it is scarce or unconfirmed.

Thinking about how the network news handled the Breaking News on Supreme Court's ACA decision still makes me cringe.
 
I would embrace new media by offering CNN over the Internet in addition to only on cable. Not the janky way some channels do it now by requiring a subscription, but by offering it for free with ads or offering a subscription or one-time fee. I would focus on great content rather than the sensationalism that we see far too often. Look at many of the successful podcast networks. Take Leo's for instance. He focuses on making great content for a niche audience and relies on the relationship with that audience. If CNN could somehow elevate their content so that people can talk like they do on TWiT, Frogpants or the like about international affairs, domestic politics, etc..., I think they would get a leg up on the competition. Start offering good versions of their shows in podcast form across the net and put the full shows on YouTube as well. 
 
Transition to 24-hour YouTube lolcat programming?

They've already made a strong start.
 
Start with dumping Wolf Blitzer.  For whatever reason, I literally can't stand the sound of him talking.  They made a smart pickup with Erin Burnett; she knows finance, and she's got a great presence on-screen.  "My CNN" included serious journalists like Aaron Brown; I'd like to see them move back a bit more in that direction as well.
 
I'd love it to become (return to being) an agnostic purveyor of commodity and breaking news, with a David Susskind type in the evening. But there is no money in being the place people turn in a disaster, and too much time to screw it up waiting for those rare moments. And there was only one Susskind.
 
Perhaps the era of 24 hour TV news is waning? With many turning to crowd-sourced news in realtime via Twitter or other sources, the news channels seem useful only to dive deeper on breaking news. Or, to provide often politically bent analysis, which could be avoided entirely.
 
In my opinion, CNN forgot its mission: to report the world's news as a top-notch historian might; i.e., from left, right, up, down, center, present and past, courting disfavor with those who would ignore or revise history, with those who can only memorize and repeat the phrase of the day. Let ABC, NBC, E, HLN and more entertain with musical Fridays, celebrities, recipes, tweets, and a few seconds each 1/2 hour for the blood of the day. Let FOX be the purveyor of slant and disinformation; let MSNBC doggedly pursue the other side of the story. Let CNN spend freely on international bureaus, on reporters who do not "jet" in for the latest crisis, but who know the people, the terrain, and the issues. Let photojournalism thrive. Let it aspire to be PBS Frontline with advertising.
 
What +Alan Bedenko said.  CNN rises to the occasion when there is truly important breaking news.  Day in, day out, though, they focus too much on trivial nonsense.  BBC World and Al Jazeera English do serious journalism well; it would be nice if CNN domestic could move a bit more in that direction.
 
I want a hard news station that also runs live on the web. No lefty interviews just news. 
 
more Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett and hire fresh, new and savvy journalists.  

Have a real-time twitter feed either at the lower thirds or on the right side of the screen.

produce more relevant shows and stop relying on Larry King Live-format shows. 

produce more content and leave the breaking news on the twitter feed so that the interns can verify and just interrupt the program for the breaking news. meanwhile have a decent stable of interesting shows and news features...  perhaps, they can hire Anne Curry out of NBC..
 
don't treat every minute of every day like it's breaking news.
 
Twitter has almost rendered CNN to the stone age for me. Lately they seem to just read twitter for news themselves.
Jay Rosen
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After years of this failure unfolding in slow motion and full view, I guess I am just too cynical to play along with your request, Jeff: "come in and reinvent it." Nothing will happen. The reason is that CNN and its corporate owners, Time Warner, are fully satisfied with the money CNN makes as a worldwide news operation operating in all those hotels and airports and cable systems abroad. CNN International is the product, CNN in the US is just a spasm. For the actual product, the CNN of the hotel chain and airport lounge and foreign cable system, for that CNN to work it has to feel harmless, safe, neutral, like beige carpeting in the convention center.

So bland newsy mush is not a weakness, but a strategic proposition for CNN. They've made their peace with mediocrity and also-ran status in prime time in the US. The fact that CNN is neither Fox nor MSNBC lets everyone feel great about his or her own "serious news person" credentials, and if you under-estimate how powerful that feeling alone is, you cannot get a handle on why this situation persists. They know no one watches until there's a big breaking news event, and they know they surrender everything to it and go to wall-to-wall whether there's anything new to report or not. They don't care. 

For there to be any movement at CNN, they would have to admit that the View from Nowhere, and "we're not the left or the right-leaning network," and "at CNN, the news is the star" have lost their power to inspire great work. But that cannot be admitted. For structural reasons--the biege carpet that offends no one--and ideological reasons. The people at CNN think they are better than everyone else in cable TV because they haven't gone left or right.

Jon Stewart nailed it years ago with his segment. "CNN leaves it there." http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there Years later, CNN is still leaving it there. Tune in years from now and CNN will be leaving it there. The network is in stasis. It's a failure that makes money and makes for self-satisfied journalists. Speculating about how to improve it is idle. 
 
Perhaps CNN can get off the news as entertainment networks and stop putting flashy animations, tweets and facebook replies in new broadcasts.

I don't need CNN to tell me what Twitter or Facebook are saying, I can check it out myself. That's one of the main reasons I don't watch it on TV... and if I do, I want serious anchors who can analyze the stream of information, summarize it, and give me an educated opinion. 

User social media and the web to reinforce information, don't make a reality TV show out of your news broadcasts. 
 
Simple - get back to basics, reinstate a collection of rules around journalistic ethics and responsibilities:

Rule #1: No partying with, cavorting with, befriending the people or organizations you cover.  

Rule #2: if your spouse or significant other is a lobbyist, politician, party operative, etc you must recuse yourself from any coverage of that person, group or topic.

There are probably a bunch more  but these two would go a long way to fixing the current set of problems.
 
I happen to like CNN. I agree they need to cut out the entertainment stuff..but they have great shows like : fareed zacharia gps, black in america, ac360 (when he is serious) , and wolf blitzer, Candi crawly .
 
I wonder what would be the best way to re-invent JOURNALISM.
 
+Derwin Emmanuel I totally agree! 360 is such a great show... but I would like if Anderson would do less "we just got a tweet..." You know what I mean? It makes me feel like I'm listening to a 14 year old in a middle of a serious discussion. It's annoying. 
 
More news, more depth, less money wasted on animated transitions, ditch the requests for tweeted opinions from the public, and try to find a bit if gravitas. They could do much worse than taking a few cues from Al Jazeera English on what professional TV news looks like.
 
How about more real reporting and less battling talking heads. More investigative reporting.
 
While CNN is still the place to go when someting big happens internationally, it is also the first to leave, after about 30 minutes, due to the mindless repetition of minimal facts. After those inititial minutes the real journo's at BBC have had the time to get on the story, and start providing perspective, left/right/back/front approach included. And  being only "the guys to go to when a war starts for 30 minutes" is not really a viable proposition - even in the international hotel room market (which is where all my remaining consumption of CNN takes place) people get bored with this.
Bring back the CNN of 1990!
 
+Colin Fesser Al Jazeera used to be looked down upon (remember when it was boycotted?) and now it's one of the most prolific news sources that takes itself seriously. Even on currents and Google+, I get full quality articles. They often know what's going on better than the news organizations here, that have things going on under their noses. 
 
Do we need CNN? Perhaps addition by subtraction.

I do have nostalgia for the brand and part of me want it to grow to quality again.

That said I don't even watch it in the airport.

If it is to live, I vote force Jeff to run it (remotely from nyc and nj)

Part 2 - all primetime and Sunday morning broadcasts need grumpy old man and women in the balcony to boo. Muppet versions ok too.
 
I agree with your assesment, +Jay Rosen ,  of CNN.  But what I WOULD like to hear is what YOU think it would look like to NOT be that way.  What we gain from that is a vision of what it could/should be,  and that might inspire SOMEONE ELSE to create a not-CNN that might someday pressure CNN to do some envisioning? That's the value I see in this exercise.  You're one of those people that Jeff deeply respects on these things (as do I),  so we WANT your "play along".  PLAY ALONG is actually a lot more serious than it sounds. I much prefer to use "envision".  If we have "faith" that there is indeed such a thing as healthy journalism,  then we have to pursue it and envision it ,  even though the rest of the world seems to be ignoring us. 
 
amen to  +Sean Brunett  's suggestion as well:  get useful on Social Media and give us full shows,  etc. ONLINE like MSNBC does.  I can rarely find video of great interviews (in full)  on CNN itslef.  I have to wait for someone else who IS web video savvy to put it up on YouTube.  CNN definitely needs to invest in engaging people WITH CONTENT online beyond the little 1-2 minute clips. 
 
How about a really radical change and try doing journalism? It's so crazy it just might work.
 
The fact that Fox included it's cable station in it's entertainment division instead of it's news division I think indicates that the entire model of cable nes is just broken..if we're evaluating it on it's output of quality journalism.

Perhaps it's time to just accept it as entertainment and realize that less and less people are getting their news from pure cable news and move on.
 
Perhaps getting our news from Google+ is the way to go?
 
+Jay Rosen you bring up a side of CNN that I didn't realize existed. I've always wondered how they make money, since they are dwarfed by MSNBC and FOX in viewership, but I hadn't taken into account the international side of their business model. The +The Daily Show clip was absolutely brilliant. CNN is masterful at "leaving it there," right before the point where they could actually do news.

So, if CNN decides to not take news seriously we're not really left with much hope, at least on the cable front. Is there any chance of anyone (other than Atlantis News Network) doing real news any times soon?
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