Opinion

Has CNN International Lost its Editorial Independence?


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CNN International’s coverage, or lack thereof, of President Trump’s daily press conferences has been dictated by its American parent network.

CNN International has been uniquely placed during the Coronavirus outbreak, with a network of correspondents strategically located in areas of outbreak.

Most notably, in China – a country not known for it’s press freedoms and the rights of journalists – CNN has maintained a consistent presence and was there, reporting on the “strange epidemic” affecting the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

As the virus started to spread, and Europe became a major focus, CNN International’s coverage and reporting really came into its own. The network’s ability to cover matters European is with little competition on the global media circuit.

CNN International’s documentary “Witness to the Pandemic” shows just how its coverage of the virus developed, and it is a gripping insight and detail of what was really happening.

It was in early March when the situation got the attention of CNN’s American operations. As March progressed, CNN International’s output was more and more being either replaced by CNN US programming, or CNN International’s programming was more and more influenced by it.

Matters came to a peak in the last few weeks. CNN’s well-known spat with US President Donald Trump came to a head when CNN dropped its coverage of his daily press conferences. This was also replicated on CNN International which stuck with political discussion taking place on its American counterpart’s output.

CNN in the US has its views and opinions of the Trump White House, its treatment of White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, and his well publicised clashes with the custodian of the Oval Office.

International audiences however, are little interested in CNN’s domestic spat with the leader of a country that is now in the grasp of the terrible disease that is Covid-19.

CNN International has in the past been known to break away from simulcasts of CNN/US in order to take live coverage of events elsewhere in the world. Why has it not done so here, when the rest of the world are actually interested in what the President of the United States of America has to say?

Domestic news networks across the world are taking Trump’s White House briefings live.

The only logical explanation surely, is that CNN International has lost its editorial independence and is being told what it’s editorial policy is in respect of its coverage of the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.

CNN’s spat with the President will be forgotten, consigned to the history books. CNN International risks alienating a global audience that will be difficult to recover.

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