Numbers still high as ratings continue to drive CNN focus on Flight MH370


CNN’s decision to devote heavy coverage to the missing Malaysia Airlines airplane has paid off with higher viewer numbers, said Brian Stelter, Reliable Sources host, on Sunday’s show.

Stelter noted that in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic, CNN cable news “total day” viewership grew from 97,000 during the period Dec. 30 to March 6, the day before the plane disappeared, to 196,000 from March 7 to March 26 — more than doubling its audience.

Even with the growth in viewer numbers, however, Fox News continued to lead in the key age group with MSNBC coming in third.

Reliable Sources’ guests James Fallows, national correspondent with The Atlantic, and Andrew Beaujon, Poynter’s news editor, talked about the media’s coverage of the missing airplane that has drawn heavy criticism.

Fallows said in a way, the story of the flight is like war coverage and grips part of the public. “It’s of undeniable human interest — human and intellectual and geostrategic [interest.]” But he added he would encourage CNN to bring on more of the experts who can dismiss “the nutty things” that are part of the speculation around the flight’s disappearance and discuss instead the range of real possibilities.

The high ratings for the flight coverage suggest a widening gulf between media critics and news consumers, Beaujon said. Average weekly ratings for flight coverage are on par and may have exceeded that for the 2012 presidential elections, he said, and points to the large audience that wants coverage of Flight MH370.

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  • VonTrap

    Yup. Have you noticed that all those news agencies have gone out of business? People die everyday! They don’t often die in a murder-mystery crash….people want entertainment. Sorry. :/

  • Sarani Jayawardena

    The Harvard Political Review seems to agree.. Check out an interesting article!

  • Hey Mr. DJ

    Chester, Chester…her show is only a fraction of CNN’s programming. CNN spent a significant amount of time on Ukraine earlier today on “At this Hour with John and Michaela”. While I do agree their Malaysia airline coverage is excessive, I strongly oppose your misrepresentation of the show’s overall coverage allotment over the past few weeks. With all due respect of course.

  • chester_goode

    I really like Erin Burnett, and I DVR her nightly show. But of course, she has been instructed to tow the company line. Last week, I fast forwarded through one of her broadcasts. That is where I got the stat.

  • Hey Mr. DJ

    Spoke to soon buddy. I’m watching CNN as I type this and they did a fairly lengthy live report on the 50K troops on the Ukraine border. George Howell spent a few days in Washington and spent far more than 2 minutes on the mudslide. If you’re going to share your opinion, try not to exaggerate. Not a good look. I trust next time you will be more accurate. It would be appreciated.

  • JTFloore

    I don’t watch cnn 24 hrs a day, so I do not know if it spent only “2 minutes on the ‘mudslide’ ” (which I doubt) or “0 minutes on a 40,000 Russian troop buildup” (which I also doubt). but I presume you are keeping close tabs on the coverage around the clock.

  • chester_goode

    When your are a responsible news organization … you do NOT spend 2 minutes on the ‘mudslide’ … 0 minutes on a 40,000 Russian troop buildup on the eastern border of Ukraine … and the rest of the time NOT reporting NEWS on the airplane … but simply speculating what might have been. I really hope that FRONTLINE does a story on this.

  • JTFloore

    when you’re a news organization, and people are turning to you to find out what’s happening with an intriguing, ongoing news event, that obviously is NOT being “a joke of a news network.”

  • chester_goode

    It’s official … CNN is now a joke of a news network. When the ‘airplane story’ is over … their ratings will sink lower that ever. The ‘Reliable Sources’ program today was a pathetic attempt to rationalize CNN’s shameless three-week long media frenzy.