From a ‘military-industrial complex’ to a ‘war-news agency complex’

CNN newsroom

News agencies like CNN have become big business, with their own vested interests. Ratings drive their business. News is exploited to ensure their multi-billion income.

I am increasingly worried about the news lately, including the way it is presented; especially by CNN.

CNN ‘sells’ news. CNN is a business – a multi-billion business – that must obey common business practices to survive. Over time, CNN has become a brand, and ‘exploits‘ news professionally.

CNN not only reports on news, it has in the meanwhile achieved a position to make and frame news. A powerful position, it must of course use responsibly.

What occupancy is for hotels, yield is for airlines, are ratings (views) for CNN. Ratings drive its business, and (for example) determine its advertisement income.

More news, means better ratings and more income. News is the product of CNN, it ‘sells’ to its viewers. More and longer views, mean more business and revenue. To achieve this, CNN also cunningly exploits feelings of viewers. News agencies – CNN – have become much more than about providing information, and have acquired a vested interest in events that attract (potential) viewers.

Disasters, terrorist attacks, wars, missile strikes, etc. are extensively covered by CNN by ‘shouting‘ anchors, that bring breaking news with high-pitched voices: More sensation, means higher ratings. News is not only ‘sold’ by CNN, it is imposed on you.

Today, I was stuck by what I qualify as framing by CNN (on CNN tv, the item is not available on cnn.com). The anchor informed us that the United States was probably considering a similar strike on North Korea, as it conducted last week on Syria; in case North Korea would provoke the US again with a weapons test, the coming week.

Next, the anchor informed us about the remarkable similarities between the leaders of both countries Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong un, who – the anchor explained – not only are successors of both their respective fathers, but also have at a certain point sent letters to each other, to congratulate each other because of some national celebrations.

Wow!

Is this news? Is this relevant? Is this an example of quality reporting, CNN prides itself with? Or is this searching for justification for even more war?

Was H.W. Bush (America’s 43rd president) not a son of one of its predecessors, and had he – and his father – not sent letters to other leaders, with dubious credentials, at some point?

This is an example of what I call framing. This is not news, this is creating a next hype, to push the ratings even higher. CNN tries to create news.

This way of reporting and exploitation of news stories, is however not without serious ‘side’ effects.

For example, by utilising news about terrorist attacks CNN-style (that means over-utilising), terrorists get what they want by CNN, free publicity for their cause. Publicity spreads fear, the purpose of terrorism. And better ratings for news agencies.

Furthermore, American presidents – especially the current president – and other leaders, are quite sensitive for their personal ratings, and they often act on the basis of these ratings. Policy is then driven by popularity ratings. CNN risks becoming part of this (already) dysfunctional dynamic.

During his ‘exit-speech‘ President Eisenhower in 1961 warned for the military industrial complex.

MIC 2

The military–industrial complex (MIC) is an informal alliance between a nation’s military and the arms industry which supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy.

Now, it seems there is another ‘complex’ at work: I name it the war-news agency complex (WNAC), WNAC is about the exploitation of wars and other disasters by news agencies, with the purpose to boost their ratings and revenue.

CNN: Time for some introspection.