BC Beat

What Would Jeff Do?

11/30/2012 11:26:39 AM

After Turner made the news of Jeff Zucker’s hire to run CNN Worldwide official on Thursday, critics immediately began writing about what the former NBCUniversal CEO should do to turn around the flagging cable news network.

On a conference call with reporters just after yesterday’s announcement, Zucker was understandably vague about his specific plans, saying “I’ve been here for an hour” and “it’s unfair to talk specifics about any shows.”

Zucker doesn’t officially take the reins at CNN until January, so until then everyone’s favorite cocktail party talking point will be what should he do to reverse CNN’s primetime ratings from their current 20-yar lows? We rounded up some of the early suggestions:

“First, he can take [Wolf] Blitzer and [John] King and the newsy types and the respectable wonks and brand them as some kind of journalism Avengers – a collection of people glassed off in a booth where you can see them out of the corner of your eye while Zucker entertains you… Turns the lights up, adds some sizzle — like a morning show, only in the evening when people who like morning shows are still awake — in a two-hour block starting at 8 p.m., eating up the bulk of primetime. At 10 p.m., he lets out the Avengers.” – Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“My answer to this would be to dedicate CNN to being aggressive and serious, a guide for viewers willing to call out B.S. even if it sometimes means telling one side in an argument that it’s wrong. (Anderson Cooper, to his credit, does this; as occasionally has Piers Morgan, with his pugilistic gun-control interviews after the Dark Knight shootings this summer.) I wrote a column on this in 2010, and it still holds: “Viewers want someone to cut through the kicked-up partisan dust. They want to hear, flat out, when someone is full of it.” – James Poniewozik, TIME

“What would a CNN that embraced the most radical implications of what it does look like? It would be a network that knows its job is to inform people in an efficient manner. It wouldn’t try to keep them in their chairs with pundit round-tables or endless crane shots of a podium where we are just moments away from whatever. It would be a network that never took six minutes to tell you something it could tell you in four. It would be a network that sent viewers on their way as quickly as possible, counting on their satisfaction in getting what they came for to bring them back often.” – Jeff Bercovici, Forbes 

Have your own ideas for CNN? Leave them in the comments below.

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