Accuracy in Media

CNN/U.S. news boss Ken Jautz reiterated in an interview this week with Marketwatch’s Jon Friedman that unlike its competitors, the network doesn’t veer to the right or left and is “the only network that doesn’t tell people who to vote for.”

Whether that’s true or not, CNN’s more opinionated competitors are doing far better in the ratings.

When Jautz arrived from CNN’s sister network HLN 18 months ago, the former number one cable newser had slipped to third place overall behind Fox News and the more liberal MSNBC, and on some evenings even finished behind the smaller HLN.

Since his arrival Jautz has jettisoned the low-rated Parker-Spitzer and its successor program, In the Arena, and hired Erin Burnett from CNBC to anchor her own program. He also moved Anderson Cooper to the prized 8 p.m. slot. While Burnett’s program has yet to take off, Cooper has improved CNN’s ratings, occasionally beating MSNBC’s Ed Schultz in the key A25-54 demographic.

CNN’s semi-resurgence in the ratings has little or nothing to do with Jautz’s strategy of going for the political middle as much as the fact that he replaced some very weak programs with slightly stronger ones and that the network continues to benefit from big news events far more than MSNBC.

Jautz told Friedman that he is pleased with the progress that CNN has made since he took over. But now that his programming makeover appears to be finished, it remains to be seen whether or not his strategy of aiming for political moderates will really pan out.

With moderates in danger of becoming politically extinct, it doesn’t appear that appealing to them is a winning strategy. But with an election year bound to provide a ratings boost, Jautz has bought himself an extra year to prove that he has CNN on the right course.

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