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CNN.com online news and WRAL-TV news differ in four significant ways: scope, depth, emphasis, and graphic design. Both broadcasts were similar in the objectivity of their reporting and interaction with real people experiencing the news. By comparing and contrasting these aspects, positive and negative areas of both shows may be discerned.
CNN offers online newscasts separated by their various anchors. One broadcast focused on Hurricane Sandy and displayed video footage of the storm’s wreckage across the East Coast. The anchor conducted a live interview with a co-anchor who shared details of his experience dealing with no power, water, bad weather, and assisting his equally distressed neighbors. Throughout the interview, other news stories were scrolling across the bottom of the screen and the background. The coloring was bright and eye-catching. The anchor displayed empathy and support for her troubled co-worker and praised his helpfulness to his community. The second newscast focusing on a school lunch program designed to mix up social groups in secondary education schools across the US featured an anchor responding to criticism of the lunch program and its character. It was clear that the anchor was angered by the outburst of the person she was interviewing. She basically broke the 4th wall and informed him one week later that she was proud to be what he referred to as “The Gay Gestapo”. The scope of CNN was national and international; information regarding Syria and other countries was available for viewing. The purpose of the news presentations seemed to be sharing the feelings, thoughts, and reactions of those who were actually part of the news – the co-anchor caught up in Sandy was offered kindness and thanks; the gentleman who believed the school lunch program was covert and brainwashing was basically told he was wrong on all counts. CNN offered vivid, lively colors to showcase both their anchors and the smaller news items running constantly across the screen.
Compare this to the 8 a.m. WRAL TV News where the two anchors blended seamlessly into the faded pastel background. WRAL reported on local and regional stories throughout the viewing area with broad strokes and very few concrete details. Topics covered were plans for expanding a local business park, sexual assault accusations against a regionally local general, a brief interview with a soldier who had experienced PTSD, a general description of the transitioning of a new governor, and a few reports of local accidents and deaths. The set design was soothing though not particularly engaging. Much like the anchors on CNN, the newscasters on WRAL showed empathy and caring toward their interview subjects while speaking of victims of recent tragedies. Also, like CNN, the stories seemed non-sensationalized and more like human interest topics rather than presenting negative details of life for the sake of obtaining viewers. The emphasis on very region-specific items differed from CNN’s broad national and international spectrum.
Both CNN and WRAL programs seemed well-suited to their respective mediums. CNN offered fast-paced, bright, intense news that would catch the attention of an internet surfer on the go. WRAL was slower paced, easier on the eye, and dealt with less urgent and vital subjects. Both broadcasts could have benefitted from a greater numbers of details and facts rather than the musings of one or two individuals. The anchors on CNN seemed more engaged and enthusiastic about the news they were sharing. This could be a byproduct of reporting on issues of national and world importance rather than information that is only relevant to a smaller viewing audience like that of WRAL.
For one looking for daily news, both CNN and WRAL would provide the relevant, up-to-date topics a viewer would be interested in. The tastes of the viewer of these two shows are very different; however, one should not look for languid, local items on CNN. Some viewers who did share the opinions of the anchors on CNN may take offense at their relatively firm stance on certain subjects. For the viewer who wants regional, slow paced reporting, WRAL would be their best bet.
Report 4: Public vs. Cable TV News
BBC offers world news, while MSNBC reports both national and international news. BBC is public news, while MSNBC is a cable television offering. The main difference between the two is the type of anchoring and reporting. The scope and depth of reporting of these two programs are similar, while the objectivity and emphasis are fairly different. Aesthetically, the two broadcasts also have some differences. By reviewing the similarities and differences, the pros and cons of public versus cable news become apparent.
BBC news reported on various international areas. Subjects touched on were: Syrian refuges, an Australian woman absolved of drug dealing (which could have led to the death penalty in her country), fuel rationing in New York City and President Obama’s tearful speech to his staff after the recent election. Most of these items were captured on video and spoke mainly for themselves without the anchor making a series of statements and evaluations. Even in instances where the subjects were interviewed (such as the Australian potential drug dealer), the newsperson asking the questions was not the focus. The background, when shown, was simply brown and non-descript. The inflection in the reporter’s voice was steady, and it would be nearly impossible to infer any opinion on the anchor’s part on the various subjects covered.
In contrast, MSNBC presented well-established newscasters basically discussing amongst themselves some items of national importance such as the budget, the recent presidential election, and other US news. The set design included strong, dark colors; the anchors seemed vitally interested in the topics they were covering. When MSNBC moved on to international news, they covered many of the same issues reported on by BBC such as Syrian refugees. The reporter showed more emotion and inflection in reporting almost identical details that were shown on BBC. MSNBC did go into more specifics.
A key difference in the presentation of BBC and MSNBC is the presence of ads. While MSNBC is a cable offering, there are random ads placed strategically throughout the broadcast. The ads are jarring and distracting; going from videos of Syrians fleeing in terror to a middle class couple discussing their new car presents a rough transition. It would most likely be seen as an advantage that BBC does not have intrusive, ill-fitting commercials sprinkled through their broadcast.
A viewer would be able to obtain very similar news from both BBC and MSNBC. Some may find BBC’s presentation monotonous and robotic as compared to the enthusiastic and opinionated reporting from the anchors on MSNBC. The comparatively drab set design of BBC may not be as pleasing to the eye as the graphics on MSNBC. The demeanor and tone of the news of these two very different programs show that there is much more to news reporting than simple facts.
When choosing direct, objective news, with little to no bias, BBC would be a better choice. Though it lacks the frills of MSNBC’s presentation, it seems to be a more straightforward program that allows the viewers to have their own their opinions on the subject matter and how it impacts their lives. However, if one is looking for the thoughts of leading experts on various topics in the news, MSNBC would be an ideal choice. Public news may be more objective, and cable news seems to be slightly more angled to be entertaining rather than just informative. Both types of broadcasting are useful to different groups of viewers.