But CNN may be edging out on the branch at the same time. CNN Headline News has broken away from its format during prime time in favor of Klein's baby, storytelling. Soon, a full spectrum of programming will be delivered via broadband, for viewers who like their news interactive and on the computer. If Walton fears this might cannibalize those news-on-demand viewers that boost CNN/U.S.'s numbers, he's not saying.
Set to roll this summer, the broadband initiative sounds compelling as Walton describes it: TV on the computer screen, but completely searchable. Live, but available on demand. Fast-forward to the news you want, rewind and rewatch to make sure you caught Aaron Brown's wordplay. "I think you'll like it," he says.
Certainly, Walton and company will be happy if, in another 25 years, magazines are covering CNN's 50th anniversary, and its rivalry with Fox is just a blip on the charts, its one U.S. network a drop in the global multimedia bucket that CNN has become. Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, however, puts the present and the future into perspective with a dip into the past: "There's been a proliferation of news sources, other 24-hour news channels, the Internet, everything else. However, CNN and Ted Turner created the communications revolution we're talking about. Everyone else has followed us."
Indeed, it's hard to imagine people checking their favorite websites for news without imagining CNN first. If, as Wolf Blitzer claims, CNN hadn't trained the world to look for news whenever they want it, we might all still be watching the network newscasts from the blow-dried/makeup/pretty-hair anchor du jour. And what kind of world would that be?