Should CNN have aired the Miley Cyrus Story?

Miley Cyrus on CNN’s Homepage
            Cable News Network, or CNN as it is more commonly called, is both a television and internet based news broadcasting network. It is owned by Time Warner an American company with interests in film, television and that owns operations such as Cartoon Network, HBO, and The CW channel. After intensive research, including contacting CNN directly both by phone and email, I couldn’t obtain a concrete mission statement for CNN although from multiple internet sources like Cable Guide and Blurtit I found that their mission statement is “to inform, involve, and empower. I think it could also be said that they have another mission that goes with this, to report the news.
            I’ve always associated CNN with reporting hard news stories. On their front page, I’ve seen stories that have told me about a man in Cleveland keeping women as prisoners in his home for ten years, as well as updates about the Arab Spring in 2010. I didn’t realize that that CNN has as many fluff stories as they do until Monday August 26, when I saw their top story of the day, about Miley Cyrus’s MTV’s Video Music Awards performance.
The MTV Video Music Awards has been shocking audiences with their sexually charged performances and costume choices since the early 1990’s. In 1991 Prince and the New Power Generation performed Gett Off (Jurzwaik)  a song that’s lyrics explicitly describe a one night stand. In the video you can see dancers mimicking some of the “23 Positions in a 1 night stand” (Nelson) and the lead singer’s costume is missing the back part of the pants, meaning his whole butt is exposed to the audience every time he turns around.  This has since been followed by fighting musicians, equally explicit performances, as well even more risqué outfits worn by performers, presenters and even guests.
Why would it be any surprise, or really even news worthy, especially to a hard news site (opposed to softer new sites like TMZ) that “Miley Cyrus twerks, stuns VMAs Crowd”  (Hare). Let alone to put the story on the front page, with complimentary videos like Everyone’s pointing fingers at Miley, and O-M-Miley: From teen queen to too grown or a picture slide Evolution of Miley Cyrus and many more very similar opinion articles written by CNN contributors writing what they thought about it all.
Looking at the Blurred Lines music video, it becomes clear that Miley is simply doing her take on what she saw in the music video, where instead of wearing a nude colored bra, the dancers are simply topless.  Oh, and that twerking, she’s been doing that, and similar butt shaking dance moves since her Hanna Montana days. None of this was ever reported on CNN, maybe because it wasn’t news worthy, which leads to a question of why was this VMA performance important enough to be front page news on CNN.
Upon first glance, it would seem that the only reason CNN aired their Miley Cyrus VMA stories is because of the page views, that they would get. These page views would then translate into more advertising revenue in the short run, but also in the long term bring in more readerships.  A few websites criticized CNN’s coverage, notably The Onion, who posted a satire pretending to be the CNN editor in chief discussing how it was a good Monday thanks to the additional ad revenues the story brought in.
Going back to the mission statement that says to inform, involve, and empower it doesn’t seem like they strayed much from this goal, not to say that they didn’t make a whole lot of money doing it though.  They informed readers by presenting videos, articles and pictures of the VMA performance, and  involved them by having an open comments section on all of their stories as well as the ability to post an iReport (simply a self-written blog post that will appear on CNN’s site) about their opinions on CNN.   The only part of their mission statement that CNN might not have achieved was empowering, they didn’t argue for change to be brought on how performers dance, or on how woman are viewed in society but by meeting the other two parts of the mission statement they might still have empowered their readers. With the information about what happened, and involvement available, this would allow their readers to make their own decisions and decide if they want to take action.
Although there are a lot of fact based news articles on CNN, looking at their different tabs, from Living to Opinion, several editorial styles take place. One of these sections, Distractions,   offers videos of animals doing silly things, like a horse playing in a kiddie pool. Stories like these are easily justified with all of the unrest in the world and loss of American life, even with the current Syria drama unfolding, because serious news isn’t the only kind of news. Viewers don’t only want to see the bad; they want to see the good as well. I’m not saying that Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance is more important than the gassing in Syria but it is a very nice diversion. Obviously I was not alone in this because according to Meredith Artley the Editor in Chief of CNN this was the top story of the day.  Readers, like me, were given a story they wanted, and CNN was able to get the page views they needed for advertisement.
As far as advertising, CNN is very similar to other news sites where there are banner advertisements on each page, there are picture and text ads, as well as video ads that play before watching a video. I don’t think that a news feed’s advertisements play a huge role in what I buy. Like any advertisement if I’m already interested in the product I’ll read about it but otherwise I tend to block out the ads mentally. The subject matter on a news feed has almost no effect on what I purchase; I think that it would only influence my purchases if they had a big story about a faulty product, or a company that was scamming customers.
Although I’ve always thought of CNN as a hard news site, they do offer a large variety of interest stories. It can seem that these stories are only in place to gain advertisement revenue, although if other viewers are like me this money isn’t well spent by advertisers, CNN’s fluff stories do fit into their mission statement. With this stories they are able to inform, involve, and empower their readers, and if people like reading these stories instead of everything being about war and politics, then the material is justified.   

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