Huff Post: It was not hard news, and it was not the most “important” story that CNN could have been covering. Jon Stewart will probably have a field day.
He did, criticizing CNN’s “wall to shit-covered wall coverage” of the “Ship Of Stools.”
CNN press release: The squalid, smelly, steamy cruise ship, which has been without power for days with 4,000 people aboard, is expected to finally limp into port later today. CNN’s Erin Burnett will anchor Erin Burnett OutFront from Mobile, Alabama, where the ship will dock. Sandra Endo cover the ship’s arrival by helicopter; Victor Blackwell monitors by boat; and David Mattingly and Martin Savidge report from the dock in Mobile. CNN.com/live and the CNN apps will live stream the docking. CNN International will simulcast the arrival later tonight.
NYT’s media czar Brian Stelter: The coverage had all the hallmarks of Jeff Zucker, the former “Today” show producer and NBC chief executive who took over CNN Worldwide last month. Mr. Zucker has been trying to take advantage of CNN’s news resources as he attempts to revitalize the low-rated channel. The cruise ship story was a no-brainer to him: from a producer’s standpoint, it has high stakes, human drama and a logical beginning, middle and end. The ship is expected to finally reach port Thursday night.
Television news producers are prone to hyping and over-covering stories, of course. That much isn’t new. But what CNN did with the cruise ship stood out because Fox and MSNBC mostly stuck with their usual stories about politics, business, crime and culture. MSNBC barely even mentioned the cruise ship in its newscasts on Thursday.
Partly that’s because the stranded ship hasn’t been a particularly visual story — but CNN changed that by chartering a helicopter and a boat for the day. Around noon, the channel caught the attention of media reporters and a few television competitors when it carried aerial pictures of the cruise ship accompanied by the words “CNN Live Exclusive.” The anchor Ashleigh Banfield announced that viewers were seeing “the first image of this ship as it approaches shore,” meaning the first live pictures — photographs had been available for days.
CNN also set up a camera with a long zoom lens on land so it could show the cruise ship 30 miles out at sea.
All the camera angles and interviews made the coverage more captivating and, some would say, entertaining, turning the news into something that looked and felt a bit like a reality show.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sarcastically sinks CNN for abandoning other news: “Because of the problems with this cruise line, all other news in the world stops like if you looked at CNN yesterday afternoon, the killing in Syria comes to an end … the national debt clock stopped … we don’t have to worry anymore because CNN tells us that this cruise ship was the only story that mattered yesterday for 24 hours.”