Twenty-three years ago, one of the largest and most successful news networks was launched, hitting an audience unfamiliar with the concept of a 24 hour news channel.

At 6:05pm on June 1, 1980, Turner Broadcasting launched the Cable News Network, or CNN as it would come to be known. The station, broadcasting from its new state-of-the-art home in Atlanta, GA., initally reached about 1.7 million households in America. That night, people tuning in would have heard the first words of CNN's first broadcast:

"I'm Dave Walker - and I'm Lois Mart - and here's the news."

CNN's first story that night was the shooting of Vernon Jordan in Fort Wayne, Indiana. CNN was able to bring live coverage to its viewers, directly from Fort Wayne.

In September of 1985, Turner launched CNN International, sending CNN around the world, and into hotels and residences throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

CNN launched the first of its tremendously popular website network,, in August of 1995. Eleven more websites would follow, reaching 6.7 billion page hits in 1999. In 1997, CNN reorganized itself, spawning four international networks, scheduled independantly from one another. This enabled each network to provide targeted programming to each respective audience.

During its infancy, CNN's employee count was around 200 people, working out of CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, as well as eight CNN branch offices around the country. Today, CNN is part of the CNN news group - composed of a total of six television networks, two radio networks, two out-of-home place-based networks, twelve websites, CNN News Source, the CNN Airport Network, and over four-thousand employees. (You get slammed with CNN stuff at Atlanta airport, and pretty much any Delta flight.) The CNN news group, as a whole, reaches about 1 billion people worldwide, delivering news in nine languages, and utilizing a network of 800 broadcast affiliates around the world.


I first watched CNN properly in Spain, on a TV provided by the villa owners. It was the only fully-English language channel we had: MTV was mostly German, everything else was just Spanish. So CNN it was. When I wasn't completely drunk off my ass or professing that I love people before collapsing, or wandering around being mopy and sunburnt (actually, during all three) I was watching CNN.

This was in June, when the Iraq conflict was still a fresh thing in people's minds and was still top of the agenda on every news bulletin and newspaper in the world. I actually began to miss the lovable English media, with its notions of public service broadcasting and insanely OTT tabloids. The closest I got to the news was a copy of The Independent (which cost me E2.80-trust the UK to fleece you dry, the thing costs 60p here, and that's with all of the fun Review section which they ripped out for the continent)...and CNN.

I was very sceptical about CNN. I had heard a hell of a lot of things about it, mostly negative. "American crap", "biased bullshit", "brashy, downmarket, yellow journalism". Most of these came from Everything2. Right from the start I thought that it was going to be much more biased than the main news source over here (the BBC-the Beeb, that lovable public institution who we enjoy the programming of but don't want to pay for because apparently the license fee bleeds the country dry. My little tangent here: ever notice how the papers which most vehemently oppose the License Fee are The Times and The Sun (both tabloids to all intents and purposes), two newspapers with vested interests that would get a hell of a lot of pleasure from seeing the BBC destroyed? Hmm? And anyway, I'd prefer paying a hundred quid to suffering ITV's dross.).

Well, this may just be CNN International (which, by the way, is pretty much seperate editorially from the US CNN, which most E2 readers will be talking about) but I couldn't find any bias. ANYWHERE! Or yellow journalism. Or any of the other crimes of which CNN should apparently be hung from the highest tree for. It was actually, dare I say it...good.

CNN seems to have a very different feel from the BBC. There's no human interest (human interest, if you're interested, is just another synonym for "fluffy, warm, fuzzy bullshit designed to distract you from the fact that we have one major superpower in the world and it fucking well hates everyone, especially you"), no swooshy noises (Ever watched Sky News, Fox News' British cousin twice removed? It's a nightmare. There's so many whooshing noises as banners fly in and out you may as well be standing at an airport. It's also in a nasty garish red, white and blue colour scheme expressly designed to destroy your retinas. Of course, since they rebranded the BBC isn't much better.) and everything is

With the BBC, you would turn on the news and you'd hear the same reporters reporting things around the world, in British accents from a British studio. You'd have a British voice talking about Haiti, and another one talking about Iraq. In CNN, you goddamn know that the reporter is there, and they have the accents to prove it.

Then there was Newsnight. Both the BBC and CNN have a programme called Newsnight, and the styles couldn't be more different. The BBC version is in a dimly lit studio with nothing but a large screen and a big round table. It's staid, slow, and quite dull. The CNN version, however, is lively and upbeat: the presenter clearly enjoys doing the programme, and as a result I enjoyed it too. It's so much better than just having stuff read out at you.

A few other observations:

  • Richard Quest is so omnipresent it's irritating. He's literally on everything. Right now there's BizNews with Richard Quest, then Business Central with Richard Quest, and later on there's Global SomethingOrOther with Richard Quest. Richard Quest, Richard Quest, Richard goddamn asslicking Quest. CNN International, I beg of you: please give Richard Quest less programmes to do. At least stop him presenting BizNews, so I don't have to see him in the mornings before I go out. There's far too much fucking Quest for everyone.
  • If CNN doesn't change the massive logo in the corner that comes on during Larry King Live someone will die. Please, change it for the sake of my sanity.
  • The idents are randomly dotted around, and they come in pairs. They all have TimeWarner on them somewhere and they all are very, very slick. You can see them at under Other Channels/CNN International in RealVideo.
  • The Newsbar is a little scrolly ticker thing that runs along the bottom of the screen. It's arranged like Mozilla browser tabs, and every so often the tab selector thingy comes down and another tab is shown. This is cool and annoying in roughly equal measures.
  • Can I just make clear how much Richard Quest's omnipresence irritates me? Thanks.

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