WHY THE WORLD IS WATCHING CNN
BY CHRIS CRAMER, MANAGING DIRECTOR CNN INTERNATIONAL
Just 24 hours after the start of the Gulf War in 1991, I had this terrible sinking feeling in my stomach. As head of the BBC's newsgathering operation, I would soon be trying to explain to my bosses why CNN was beating everyone when it came to coverage of the war that was unfolding in Iraq.
I hate being a loser, I want to be a winner, and five years after the humiliation of the Gulf War, I moved from the BBC to CNN. I was then able to discover what it was, and still is, that makes CNN the most talked about and one of the most respected news organizations in the world.
CNN had broken the mold of TV news when it was launched in June 1980. It was the first 24-hour news channel in the world, at that time broadcasting to the U.S. market. Just five years, later CNN International was launched on an unsuspecting and still skeptical world. Only Ted Turner really knew what he had done and what it would be able to achieve.
Like many of my journalist colleagues, I had been complacent and thought the news was best served up at fixed points of the day in heavily crafted and refined news broadcasts. Oh, how we at laughed at Ted Turner's expense, even when events like the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion in 1986 or the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 forced television networks to go live – usually painfully late and sometimes hours after coverage had been broadcast around the world by CNN.
If that was not warning enough, then the Gulf War in 1991 made television news executives hang their heads in shame when CNN's meticulous planning, bravery and 24 hours of extraordinary coverage made CNN the place to work and, for viewers, the network to watch.
As CNN celebrates 25 years of groundbreaking news coverage and technical innovation, I am proud to be part of CNN's illustrious history. It is a history that changes every day as CNN continues to stretch the boundaries of television reporting and expands, not just its services, but the ability to gather the news from the most remote parts of the world.
But CNN's real secret weapon, aside from Ted Turner, is the staff, not just the ones who joined the maverick cable news network back in 1980 but who still today collectively challenge every tradition, obstacle and convention in TV news.
From those early days of ridicule by the established news media to the endless lists of awards and exclusives earned by the network, it is not hard to see why CNN is these days looked upon as the world's leading provider of news and information.
As the head of CNN's international division, I have the opportunity to travel the world and know that CNN is not just a trusted source of news but also relied upon by many as their only way of knowing what is happening in the world around them.
Our 26 international bureaus and the production centres in London, Hong Kong and Mexico City are at the very heart of what CNN is all about and what it will be in the future. Our correspondents and crews work in some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places on earth and their dedication and courage is relied upon by millions of people everyday.
For many, CNN is not just an English-speaking 24-hour news channel on TV, our services in Spanish across Latin America as well as our services in Turkey (CNN Turk), Spain (CNN+) and Germany (n-tv) bring CNN's news and information to millions in their own language. On the web, with six million users a day, CNN.com is the most visited site for news and information. Add to that our Internet services in Arabic and Japanese, CNN's mobile and ever-growing number of digital services it is not hard to see why CNN news can reach more than a billion people a day.
Every day I see the staff of CNN continuing to set new standards in award-winning journalism and technological advancement. I may have been here for nine years, but my colleagues, especially the ones who were here at the birth 25 years ago, tell me that the best is still to come.
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