From the Gulf War coverage to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, from Middle East revolutions to U.S. presidential elections, CNN has consistently beaten its cable news competitors when covering breaking, hard news stories. But for a 24/7 news network, relying solely on global events, natural disasters, and coups d’etat isn’t always easy. If you want ratings, sometimes you need a little sizzle, even on a slow news day.
CNN proved that last week with its coverage of the stranded Carnival cruise ship. Its ceaseless, rigorous reporting on what was essentially inconvenienced cruise passengers without working toilets was easy to mock (and many people did), but the results were nothing to laugh at. CNN’s ratings averaged 1.2 million viewers for the cruise ship coverage, a 74 percent increase from its recent prime time numbers.