While everybody’s lifting a glass to celebrate CNN’s 25th, let’s pause to toast Ted Turner’s real contribution to television news. It’s not 24/7 news. It’s not the global reach of cable. No, the network’s most significant — but seldom mentioned — contribution to TV News was taking the production of graphics out of the hands of (union) engineers and putting the task in the hands of artists. This was huge, and I remember the whole industry rushing to imitate the vertically mounted cameras and character generators that revolutionized the whole notion of making graphics for TV News.
This was a precursor to many other innovations that gave TV news people freedom to create, and it goes down in my book as CNN’s most lasting contribution to the medium.