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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ken Jautz Talks 'Quality Journalism' to MarketWatch

We know this has been talked about in this past week's comments but we never got around to posting the original article. If you missed it please take a few minutes to read and give us your opinion. ~The ATC Team

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — What does CNN stand for in 2012? Does it lean left or right? Which does it pursue more avidly, robust ratings or high-minded journalism?

Ken Jautz had better have the answers.

In September 2010, Jautz took the helm of the Time Warner-owned (US:TWX) CNN’s U.S. news operations in September 2010. Jautz, who had been running Time Warner’s Headline News unit, believes that he can have it both ways.

For his part, Jautz insists that CNN is — and must be regarded as — a multi-media monument to objective coverage, which any liberal or conservative viewer could appreciate. Can CNN pull it off at a time when the trend is for the media to be identified by its red- or blue-state audience?

“We will continue to grow” across all digital media “and differentiate ourselves in cable television,” he told me in an interview, citing the leadership of CNN digital-news chief Meredith Artley.

Jautz’s mantra is: “Quality journalism is good business.”

Hmmm. The media world is a notoriously cynical industry. My people are quick to bemoan a crooked politician’s disgrace and make a carnival out of the latest celebrity’s drug overdose. We fancy ourselves as being the arbiters of cool and the ultimate judges of piousness.

So, rival network executives might roll their eyes or outright snicker at Jautz’s closely held belief.

But Jautz has bigger concerns. He has one of the most delicate balancing acts in all of the media, by serving his corporate bosses while leading his thousands of CNN network and online troops.

I believe that he is not a dreaded “suit” — a corporate bean counter — at heart. I recently spent a few hours with Jautz at lunch and quickly got the impression that he would have gladly swapped positions with me — well, for a few minutes, anyway — so that he could have the fun of doing a reporter’s job again.

CNN reporters and editors can be confident that, at heart, he is one of them. Jautz was an Associated Press reporter early in his career. He covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and served as CNN’s Germany bureau chief.

Jautz’s mission is to cover highly charged political news without veering to either side of the aisle. “We’re the only network that doesn’t tell people who to vote for,” he told me.

Jautz has a lot to live up to — and live down. CNN drew great acclaim for its coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and its reputation as the king of cable news seemed assured.

But the Fox News Channel, which was launched in 1996, subsequently overtook CNN in the ratings and for many years, Fox has stood as the cable news network with dominant ratings.

Fox holds such a stranglehold on ratings that CNN and MSNBC must fight it out for second place. CNN is pleased by the progress it has made under Jautz. (Fox, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp. (US:NWS))

Jautz also pointed out that he is confident that:

— Anderson Cooper, CNN’s biggest star, has made progress in establishing himself as a global presence on news stories and is unruffled by media naysayers who wonder why he doesn’t get higher ratings, considering how high profile he is. Jautz said he is “pleased” with Cooper’s growth.

— Piers Morgan, who succeeded Larry King, is developing a “water-cooler” appeal.

— Erin Burnett, who left CNBC (US:CMCSA) last year to take over a CNN news show at 7 p.m., is gaining traction as a tough interviewer. “She’s doing great,” he said.

Jautz may find that point-of-view journalism is what America really wants, that viewers truly do want their television network of choice to give them red-meat journalism.

But Jautz won’t give in.

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Anonymous said...

Since he took over CNN US in September 2010, CNN has obviously gone WAY down in ratings and isn't the world news leader as it used to be. It might be the case for CNN International but DEFINITELY NOT CNN America. There needs to be an intervention! Where is Ted Turner? CNN is ONLY #1 when there is a major breaking news story because people who normally don't watch the news, tune into CNN as their choice for watching Breaking News. It's getting so bad though that CNN wasn't even #1 on the Super Tuesday coverage. I really wish someone would speak out at CNN! I truly love this network because it's non-opinionated but since they began adding pundits, it's gotten horrific! The only appropriate opinionated political pundits that should stay at CNN are Gloria Borger, David Gergen, Mary Matalin, and James Carville. Everyone else like Will Cain or Roland Martin are so annoying. Ken Jautz obviously took this job for the $$$$$. There needs to be action taken immediately! Save the network I remember and love.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous9:20PM: COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER! Someone needs to email CNN and tell them to read every comment on the blogsite from every post!

Anonymous said...

CNN definitely needs an INTERVENTION. It's time
for MR TIME WARNER JEFF BEWKES to shake things
up at CNN. CNN.COM had to pull a bogus lottery
story. CNN and other networks got duped by a
made up FOXCONN story. The facts don't matter
to CNN and that is why they are in trouble. All of
the pundits need to go now. Gloria Broger is a real
you don't need pundits. CNN needs to understand
that pundits don't represent viewers. They lie and
CNN has the audacity to call it quality journalism.

Ken Jautz turned HLN away from news and he is
doing the same thing to CNN. Have you seen the
ratings for HLN. No one calls HLN a news channel
anymore and the same thing goes for CNN. Oh
by the way find an identity for CNN and come up
with some decent names for shows and stop it
with the over-promoting of Piers Morgan and
Erin Burnett. I can't stand CNN anymore for that
reason. CNN they are horrible show hosts. Only
CNN would highlight bad shows. Please if you
say you are about quality journalism, where are
the promos about the news and the CNN mission.

Why do pundits get more airtime than the real
journalists at CNN. The real news people. CNN
acts like their viewers are ignorant and that is
why CNN is bleeding viewers. Don't insult us.
Obviously, MarketWatch is not really watching
CNN. THis is a dire situation. CNN needs a new
leader,plan and vision. Nothing makes me want
to watch CNN and I won't as long as Ken Jautz
is heading CNN. You don't have the right to
broadcast fake news into my home without my
consent and refuse to have no choice. I protest
with my remote. Without customers you can't
survive and will fade away. Hey, CNN you made
your decision. Obviously, CNN could care less
about viewers.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely believe there is a market for a cable news channel that deals in straight news without an ideological agenda. My problem with Jautz isn't his theory that people want unbiased, quality news but it is with his execution of covering relevant, interesting news. Too often, CNN covers stories that aren't ineteresting and then they beat it like a dead horse. I think there is a place for political pundits - but more specifcally, I prefer people of the political class who have had real jobs with real responsibility. First, the pundits are overused in a talking point - counter talking point format that is predictable and boring. Second, I REALLY don't like these ideological pundits who are not journalists or experts or politicians or policy-makers. People like Will Cain are what I call professional talkers - they have never held office, worked in govt., or run a campaign. They are just ideological hacks and have no place on CNN. There are on the right and left. Third, establish rules and standards even for the professional political operatives that do not allow them to just reiterate partisan talking points. CNN has some quality pundits: Mary Matalin and James Carville, Hilary Rosen, David Frum, etc... but CNN shouldn't be afraid to fire political operatives if they are no longer interesting and bring nothing to the table. Point of view is fine because it helps inform the viewer of that person's world view but coming with an agenda is different and shouldn't be tolerated. Anchors need to credible in the topics they cover on their show and should have the "chops" to handle breaking news as it comes in. People can quickly see when an anchor is in the deep end and relies too much on the guests being able to fill in all the time. The anchors needs to be as capable as anyone at the table to be interesting and engaging.

Anonymous said...

I know people are changing how they consume news and where they get it but regardless of your medium, you still want the right source that you can trust to tell it to you straight. In the enormous fire hose that is news flow, people crave CLARITY, CREDIBILITY, and CONTEXT. I can get news hits and highlights through a variety of sources but there still needs to be a platform where big issues are explained and discussed by smart people. Jautz is right that "quality journalism is good business." But putting that into practice is easier said than done and I would argue that CNN is failing to do that now. I *really* want CNN to grow and succeed. But they have got to change their ways. If their most hardcore fans are turning away, how can they get new viewers? CNN needs to go in-depth on stories, follow multiple angles, and cover issues that affect the rest of the country - NOT JUST NY AND DC. CNN is without a financial news network so they really need to incorporate financial news in their primetime lineup. I know not everyone here agrees, but Ali Velshi and Christine Romans have good weekend shows about money and they talk about it in terms for regular people not OF, BY, and FOR Wall Street. NPR has really done a great job bringing financial news to the masses. CNN could distinguish itself by being able to talk about the economy in terms that the broad middle-class can relate to. I'm tired of hearing from some hedge fund manager that some lazy producer met over lunch and go get some people who live out in the rest of the country. Running down to Times Square is not a legitimate place to meet "normal" people. CNN needs to invest again in real journalism, throughout the country, and around the world. I don't want to see hours of endless "drama" but show me what's being done about a problem. They also need to mix things up throughout the evening - every show feels the same, or like a bad knockoff of AC360. Get some new talent, but develop them first instead of throwing the latest fad on TV and thinking that personality will win people over.

Anonymous said...

@12:32 p.m.- no one has to do a bad knock off of AC360. Just go to AC360--it is a bad knock off already of what it used to be.

Anonymous said...

I hope CNN does go for George Strombo. That
is quality programming and CNN needs a show
like this. Talk is cheap. You can say you back
quality journalism but not really mean it. I want
to see evidence that CNN is trying to do quality
journalism and not pundits. I only watch 360 and
when Anderson brings on the pundits I turn the
channel for 15 minutes to be safe. Not watching
Out Front or PMT. The moment I heard CNN gave
them shows I decided never to watch either.

Suzanne Pratt said...

The best programming CNN has done in the last 7 years besides their disaster coverage are the many documentaries put out by Soledad O'Brien, Tom Foreman, Anderson Cooper, Drew Griffin, etc. I hope that the movement of Soledad to a morning anchor spot does not spell the end of these types of shows. CNN did quality journalism on these documentaries - I hope they continue.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm fed up with Gloria Borger and Mary Matalin and depending on the subject, David Gergen as well, all of them have a tendency towards bias and Gloria Borger is downright disrespectful of President Obama. Roland Martin may be disliked by some viewers, but I'm glad that he and Donna Brazile are around to point out certain issues that the others may overlook or dismiss for whatever reason. Mary Matalin in particular has been a MAJOR disappointment with her rigid stance on Rush Limbaugh and the whole contraceptive controversy. There are good Republican commentators out there, Mark McKinnon, Kevin Madden, Rich Galen, Nicole Wallace, all of them would be better than Mary Matalin if they must continue to go the pundit route. What CNN needs are more smart people talking. Fareed Zakaria is one of them.

Anonymous said...

This latest Ken Jautz article truly puts things into perspective. When you have the man at the helm daring to state "quality journalism" and CNN in the same sentence - as a viewer you know it's time to move on.

Here is a network that only attracts an audience of a million viewers during "breaking news" or a "major story." Any other given day, CNN's and HLN's numbers combined do not equal a million viewers. Meanwhile, all of the Fox shows bring in a million and now you have two and sometimes three shows on MSNBC that are reaching a million viewers. But CNN says they are please with the progress. What progress?

A typical CNN show, you get five news stories that are repeated for two hours. You also get political news and of course a panel of paid contributers bickering back and forth.
CNN's philosophy is to stay neutral, remain partisan. Here's a novel idea: Why don't you just report the facts and let the viewers decide for themselves?
What happened to reporting the facts?

Jautz is pleased with Cooper's growth. His ratings are declining every week, and you're pleased? Cooper has two shows that are struggling in the ratings, and CNN treats him like he is receiving BOR numbers.

Erin Burnett is doing great? One of the biggest promotional campaigns ever, and she is just now gaining traction as a tough interviewer? So, when you hired her, her interviewing skills were not taken into consideration? Obviously not, because most of the NewsRoom anchors are terrible interviewers.

Mr Jautz probably would have earned a bit of respect and a bit of pass, if he would or could have admitted that CNN is struggling and they have some work to do. But to boldly say, they are making progress, just lets us fans know, it's time to turn the channel.

Anonymous said...

Tough interviewer? That's insulting to many of CNN's fine reporters. Burnett's interview with Tim Geithner was the biggest puff piece I'd seen in a while. Oh, let's not forget Foster Freiss... golly gee mr. Freiss, are you a big bad billionaire or just a widdle bitty millionaire? way to stick it to 'em burnett. My life is enriched by knowing that Freiss has yet to achieve that coveted status of "billionaire." Good to know he is still trying.

Jautz is clueless and the ratings show it.