News as Entertainment...an open letter to CNN

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dick, Jan 11, 2002.

  1. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    6,640
    Likes Received:
    2,710
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Maine
    Real Name:
    Rick
    The following is a copy of an email I just sent to CNN:

    The issue of News As Entertainment has been promoted by you people in a big way, and by something you might easily overlook. Nonetheless it has a powerful emotional effect and consciously or not you have transformed your channel into little more than a motion picture that happens to contain news stories. It was bad enough when you put that ominous, melodramatic, in-your-face music to AMERICA SPEAKS BACK, music which can instill tension and even fear in a viewer (it does to me). Finally, though, you really crossed the line when you hired Don LaFontaine to do your promotional voice-overs. Mr. LaFontaine is, I am sure, a very decent guy who loves his family and is down to earth with his friends, but as utilized for movie trailers for the past several years, his voice has become a symbol of entertainment. His breathy, deep, portentious voice with its ever-predictable rhythms sets a very unfortunate tone for your news channel - we expect CNN to show us fast-paced, intense dramatic programs with staccato editing and special effects and car chases and explosions. James Earl Jones' "This is CNN" is one thing, but the redundant, menacing voice of Mr. LaFontaine ("Another reason...you can depend...on CNN..."), now heard on many cable channels as well as about half of all movie trailers, makes me want to reach for the remote to hit the "mute" button. Hire someone who has an encouraging voice and who can promote a little confidence in viewers, instead of trying to intensify an already explosive world situation by making your viewers feel more paranoid and fearful than they would be if the news was presented without this histrionic edge. Just give us the news. Don't make superb reporters like Walter Cronkite want to throw up their arms in dismay.
     
  2. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 1999
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Real Name:
    Jasen
    I still think CNN is much less guilty of "News As Entertainment" than FoxNews. Ughh!
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ...or, for that matter, all local "news" telecasts--which are little more than Entertainment Tonight with the weather and sports thrown in (especially here in Los Angeles--there is no reliable televised, English-language source for local and state news to be found anywhere. I am not kidding. That is, if your idea of "news" isn't Michael Jackson's latest plastic surgery as a lead item.)
     
  4. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2000
    Messages:
    1,328
    Likes Received:
    67
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    Rob
    Yeah, but the more they instill the sense of paranoia and fear you speak of, the more people turn to the news. CNN is trying to exploit a self-perpetuating cycle. A sick one.

    Rob
     
  5. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    18,520
    Likes Received:
    2,926
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    I'm also sick of the news having a political leaning to it. Fox news slants to the right, and every other news network slants some degree to the left. Why can't the selection and portrayal of news be done with out political bearings in mind?
     
  6. Bergan Peters

    Bergan Peters Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's not possible to get unpolitical news coverage because we are a people without morals and ethics. The fact that ANYTHING that occurs that is scandalous is deemed news worthy is disgusting. Edward R Murrow would turn over in his grave that a coach taking his kids to hooters made national news.
     
  7. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dick,
    I agree that it's irresponsible for CNN to hire Mr. Lafontaine. There is a whole mess of preconceptions that the world has associated with his voice... arguably the most heard voice in mass entertainment. It's all about ratings... they are simply trying to tap into the market dominating by movies and television.
    Personally, and I apologize to anyone who does not share these views, it makes me feel ill. It disgusts me.
    I stopped watching television news years ago. I listen to NPR for at least an hour a day (especially the news). I know that their accused 'leftist' leanings make a lot of people very mad, but I have heard some very solid material there that goes against the flash and glamour of CNN.
    Oh, and I know Waterville quite well... [​IMG] Ever been to the Spotted Dog?
    Joseph
     
  8. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    CNN is still Commie News Network to me...and it always will

    be!
     
  9. Ian_Fisher

    Ian_Fisher Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 1999
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I am so sick of the way news is treated in this country. I think that news organizations have an obligation to report NEWS, and they are totally falling on their faces.

    I subscribed to the paper, and while it's not perfect, at least I'm reading NEWS! No TV news for me until they clean up their act!
     
  10. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2001
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  11. Jason Quillen

    Jason Quillen Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    622
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I remeber my freshman year in College (2yrs ago) when I lived in the dorm the only feed we got for the WB from from LA. So whenever I wanted to watch Buffy or anything on WB I had to wait until 11 EST time. Anyway, one night I was just flipping through the channels and caught the KTLA news. There was a guy that had somehow gotten into a dumptruck full of tree debris (I think) and had been dumped at a landfil. The news station just sat there, helicopter overhead, rehashing the same info over and over again, and I began to think I was watching a movie and not the 'real' news. It just had that entertainment/movie feel to it...I cant really explain it. So thats my little story, it just seemed to fit what was being discussed here.

    JQ
     
  12. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2000
    Messages:
    7,058
    Likes Received:
    884
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Salinas, CA
    Real Name:
    Matthew
    I recommend that all of you read the book "Who Killed CBS?" by Peter Boyer. It's an extremely fascinating, detailed account of how the great institution of Cronkite-era CBS news (for which, unfortunately, I wasn't around, though his newscasts still exist in public and private archives) turned to garbage. They subsequently lowered the standards for all television news, it seems. I have no idea whether or not the book is still in print, but you may be able to get a new or used copy off Amazon.com.

    I, too, wish they'd show straightforward news with no bathos or "yellow journalism," but it's all about ratings to them.
     
  13. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's Show Business guys...Show...Business. Always has been.

    Why is everyone so upset over these issues, when there was no obligation for it in the first place ?

    What Tv has gotten away with since it's start, up until now, is that there has to be something "fair" or "ethical" about it. Only those who want to rock the boat think about fairness...troublemakers ! Remember these companies have a right to free speech and to engage in business commerce too.

    There is that little chromium switch...on....off. The trouble is no one exercises it enough. They just hook it into their best looking vein and consume, mindlessly. Hypnotized by all of the moving images. And the Noises. The Colors....wow.

    If it wasn't Tv, we would be complaining about the hand and shadow shows on the wall...someone always imagining The Finger all the time!
     
  14. Duncan Harvey

    Duncan Harvey Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2000
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I spent a month in the US last year (July-August) and being on holiday, was in a different hotel room nearly every night.

    We used to put the tv on to find some news, but could usually only find CNN... I found it comical that all non US news was packaged into "the global minute".

    BTW - did they ever find Chandra Levy - a story which seemed to be gripping the nation back in July?
     
  15. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    862
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Duncan - nope, no sign of Ms. Levy. The terrorist attacks on September 11th wiped that story off the map.
     
  16. Ian_Fisher

    Ian_Fisher Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 1999
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think the "if you don't like it...switch off" saying is great! I use it all the time for TVs and movies. But news organizations have an obligation to report the NEWS! Not just interviews with Anne Heche and bullshit like that. I mean really...Dateline is on like 138 times a week, you mean to tell me, they can't give 1 hour a week to nothing but political issues, or nothing but global issues.
    After September 11th everybody was saying, "nothing will ever be the same." Is it just me, or is everything turning out the same?[​IMG]
     
  17. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    6,640
    Likes Received:
    2,710
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Maine
    Real Name:
    Rick
    Mike: Certainly we have the option of using the remote. That's not the point. The point is that CNN began, like so many news programs, magazines and papers, as an institution with integrity. People trusted them for accurate and in-depth coverage of stories smaller organizations could not cover. They had one of the finest news teams in place from the start - fine, unmannered (as opposed to so many now who all went to the same school to learn how to move their heads and inflect their voices so as not to be "dull") anchors and reporters scattered across the globe ready to be on the scene no matter where the scene was. There was no garish thriller movie music introducing shows, no portentious voice-overs (just J.E.J.'s "This is CNN," which gave authority to the network without being bombastic), and no Wolf Blitzers trying to turn every news development into an act or war or harbinger of an apocalypse. So, my point really is, if we can't trust CNN to give us the straight dope without the melodramatics, who can we trust? Having Mr. LaFontaine do voice-overs for this network the same way he does for A&E and Discovery just seems terrifying to me, for it implies there really is no longer anything separating the truth from the fiction. If that doesn't unsettle anyone else, then I find that all the more scary.
     
  18. Brian Lawrence

    Brian Lawrence Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 1998
    Messages:
    3,634
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Real Name:
    Brian
    The sad reality is that straightforward news without the gloss would flop in the ratings, Lose advertisers and then be pulled off the air.
    I agree it can be most frustrating. I really hate it when news shows air a segment about sick or dying children (or anything along those lines) and have sad piano music in the background as if it where some friggin soap opera and we need our emotions to be dictated to us. [​IMG]
     
  19. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 1999
    Messages:
    4,203
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm going to agree with Dick. They were great when they started, and I'd like to say that they just got 'old', but the most dramatic change came about after the merger with AOL.

    It just went totally downhill after that. The screen became too cluttered and the entire format has changed for the worse.

    I heard a few weeks back that CNN finally dropped off of the number one spot, which was taken by FOX's news station. Although far from perfect, it is much better than CNN now.

    Glenn
     
  20. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dick, you shouldn't trust anything that comes from a person in an electric box that talks to you, in the first place.

    It's not meant to be trusted.
     

Share This Page