Credit: Mark Gibson / Getty Images
*This piece was originally published on January 15th, 2021.
It might be difficult to remember now, but there was a time when the news wasn’t 24/7. There were morning and evening editions of the paper; the nightly news was, well, nightly; radio offered updates from time to time. But there’s a whole lot of difference between that world and today’s never-stop cavalcade of heartbreak, tragedy, excitement, and despair.
And one of the biggest dividing lines between those two realities was the creation of CNN. Journalist is the author of “ ,” and she argues that CNN didn’t just change television, or cable, or even news… it changed our entire world.
- You can’t tell the story of the early days of CNN without telling the story of Ted Turner, its flamboyant, yacht-racing co-founder, dubbed “The Mouth of the South.” After taking over his father’s billboard business, Turner moved from local television to the then-emerging field of cable television. Napoli points out that, in the beginning, Turner wasn’t even that interested in news; he was more interested in the technology of cable and satellite. For various reasons, programming a station with sports and old movies wouldn’t work… but news, he figured, was doable.
- The early days of CNN were a bit ramshackle. Napoli describes it as something of a startup culture (remember this was the first 24/7 news source ever), with a small number of people taking a huge risk to realize Turner and co-founder Reese Schonfeld’s idea. And all of this was based in the not-yet-media-capital of Atlanta.
- Napoli believes that, without CNN, someone would have eventually launched a 24/7 cable news channel; the idea was just too compelling. But we’re still grappling with the changes that CNN brought to our culture. “Celebrity” reporting, politicians being camera-ready, style-over-substance journalism: these are all issues that have swirled around CNN.
- Want to learn more about the eventful - and that’s underplaying it - life of Ted Turner? Take a look at this .
- If the world had ended in the 1980s… how would CNN have covered it? No need to wonder, they had an actual plan for that. about what video they would play.
- Reese Schonfeld, CNN’s co-founder, also founded The Food Network. about the history of that channel.
- of James Brown’s show, Future Shock.