CNN has become a laughingstock and the butt of many jokes over the last month for their breathless 24/7 coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Although the plane disappeared on March 8th and is still missing — presumably somewhere at the bottom of the Indian Ocean — CNN devoted non-stop coverage to the story, even when no new news was being reported.
Although CNN was late night fodder for its discussion of black holes swallowing up the plane, it is in all seriousness a troubling sign for the American news media. CNN’s plane obsession was everything terrible about cable news and crystalized the downfall of the network. It was little more than entertainment being played out on television screens as a live action mystery. It’s fair to wonder whether a resolution to the story and answers in the plane’s disappearance would be the last thing CNN actually wanted. Worst of all, the network was very clearly exploiting a very human tragedy for ratings by staying with the story for so long.
With their non-stop coverage of this one story, CNN basically told the world they were no longer to be taken seriously as a news organization of record. Instead of answering to any sort of journalistic responsibility, they were going to answer to Nielsen ratings points. And only when those ratings started to decline would they decide to move to something else.
But alas, finally, after more than a month of “Breaking News” coverage, CNN has moved onto other matters. After squeezing every last drop possible out of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN finally reached a point where even they sucked it dry.
The final banner headlines were really segments from Bill Nye the Science Guy masquerading as BREAKING NEWS or a DEVELOPING STORY. You can actually pinpoint the exact moment when CNN ran out of stories involving the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and decided to throw in the towel. All of these screengrabs from the front page of CNN.com were collected from April 10th to April 15th and they show a sad state of affairs for American cable news.
Look, kids — sound can bend waves! Learning is power!
And here is the real moment when CNN’s Flight 370 coverage came to a climax. A banner headline that asked: “What’s next?” It’s almost as if they finally admitted to the world that after 24/7 coverage of the plane’s disappearance for over a month they were finally all out of ideas.
What was left was a few more headlines to permeate from the zombie corpse that was CNN’s Flight 370 coverage including this shocking development.
Black boxes important? WHO KNEW! After a couple more tidbits of Breaking News, CNN.com removed the Malaysia Airlines story from its domineering place at the top of its website.
Surprisingly, CNN’s coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would not go on until the sun grew in size and created a greenhouse effect on Earth, thus suffocating the planet and making human life impossible. In its place, the former leader in cable news has turned to other stories and tragedies like the South Korean ferry disaster. Flight 370 is now just another headline alongside the Oscar Pistorius trial and even Real Madrid’s victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.
But let us never forget this time and how CNN has redefined Breaking News for this generation and turned it into a running joke. If this week is any indication, they haven’t even gotten started yet.
— Chris Patterson (@tenzochris) April 17, 2014