Programming

Upfronts 2010: CNN Doubles Down on Long-Form Programming

Cable news network stays with "non-partisan reporting" as ratings continue to struggle 4/13/2010 12:56:32 PM Eastern

Upfront Central: Complete Coveragr From B&C

CNN
unveiled a slew of long-form programming designed to highlight what executives
insist is the cable news networks stock-in-trade, "non-partisan
reporting," during its upfront presentation to advertisers and reporters
Apr. 13 in New York.

The
cable news channel made its commitment to journalism the centerpiece of its
presentation, which it called "Newsmakers."

"We
are the only credible, non partisan voice left, and that matters," said Jim
Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. "Our traditional competitors have abandoned
the field."

"Journalism
is our core value, it is who we are, but most of all it is what allows us to
inform," said Greg D'Alba, the executive VP of advertising sales for CNN.

The
network is doubling down on long-form programming with several specials on
topics including education, the environment, terrorism and culture.
Additionally, Soledad O'Brien will anchor the two-night, two-hour special Haiti
- Rescued
, May 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. The documentary examines the plight of Haiti's orphans
through the eyes of a 7-year-old orphan.

Anderson
Cooper will helm multiple investigative hours under the umbrella title An
Anderson Cooper 360 Investigation
. American Al Qaeda will examine
the phenomenon of home-grown Qaeda converts. The week-long series begins May 10
and includes a year-long investigation by international correspondent Nic
Robertson into the case of accused New
York City bomb plotter Bryant Neal Vinas. Black
and White: Kids on Race
explores the evolution of prejudice and
segregation by revisiting the watershed 1947 "Doll Test" conducted by
African-American psychologists Mamie and Kenneth Clark. Black and White
bows in June.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will front
two specials in June: Toxic Towns USA, which looks at the myriad
pollutants plaguing rural Mossville, La., which is surrounded by chemical
plants; and Dads for my Daughters, which follows the plight of
best-selling author Bruce Feiler (Walking the Bible), who enlisted his
close male friends to be surrogate fathers for his twin daughters after Feiler's
2008 diagnosis of osteosarcoma (a rare and aggressive bone cancer).

CNN also introduced multiple long-form programs under
the rubric In America: Gary & Tony Have a Baby (June) about a gay
couple's journey toward parenthood via surrogacy and in vitro
fertilization; and Katrina Plus Five (August), about New Orleans five years
later.

Additionally, CNN's Black in America, which has already had two iterations anchored by
O'Brien, will return in October with Churched, which looks at the traditions of African American
churches and their role in the Civil Rights movement.

CNN executives also announced CNN.com initiatives
including several blogs: Eatocracy will cover food related issues; BeliefBlog
will look at religion; This Just In will focus on breaking news; and
Afghanistan Crossroads will provide updates from CNN's team of correspondents
in Afghanistan.

Executives also stressed the multiplatform environment,
saying that when CNN.com and CNN mobile apps are taken into account, it reaches
far more people than just the television network itself.

"So
much has been written about us lately, however is the complete story being
told? There is no way it is," D'Alba said. "You bet CNN is everywhere, you bet
television is everywhere. That is the real story."

D'Alba was referring to weeks of media scrutiny
following CNN's Q2 ratings, with columnists of all stripes weighing in on the
fate of CNN and what it should do to adjust.

Walton joked about that coverage in his opening remarks.

"I
would... like to thank the members of the media in this room for all of the
great coverage we have had over the last few months," Walton said, to laughs
from the audience.

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