Why Does CNN Want to be MTV?

Morning news’ failed attempt to grow young.

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There comes a time when every college student realizes that the world does not revolve around MTV, dorm parties and 3 a.m. runs to the nearest 24-hour McDonald’s or IHOP.

It’s when you start making friends who ask your opinion about Michael Steele and Chris Matthews; when you get into debates over your preference of MSNBC over FOX news; when you find yourself getting excited about the president’s first joint congressional address. When these issues start popping up, you know you’ve officially “crossed over” into the realm of social maturity.

During my “crossing over”—complete with the addition of coffee to my morning routine and my newfound concern for the nutritional content of the cream cheese on my bagel—I found myself switching from my usual morning ritual of music videos on MTV and reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, to network and cable morning news programs. I thought I was trading in my daily dose of mind-numbing pop culture for the more intellectually stimulating world news. I’ve decided that there’s not much difference.

Within a week of regularly tuning in to American Mornings on CNN, I watched at least one segment on marijuana for almost three days straight (after President Obama clearly stated that his administration would not be entertaining the idea of legalization). After commercial breaks, the music leading back into the programming included things like “Live Your Life” by T.I. and Rihanna, “Rock Star” by Pink, “Good Life” by Kanye West and even “Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard—I wish I was kidding. I thought maybe some intern had put an iPod on shuffle and just decided to let the good times roll. Maybe it’s because CNN got all buddy-buddy with Ashton Kutcher during their bet to see who could get the most followers on Twitter or because they’ve got more than 380,000 fans on their Facebook page or because Anderson Cooper’s pretty hot. But it seems to me that they’re trying too hard to appeal to young viewers. I’m not mad at them for wanting to revitalize their brand and woo a younger audience, but I draw the line at Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

News flash: Young people generally want to grow up. We want our Twitter and our toys, but we also want to be informed citizens of the world. And we don’t necessarily turn to the same places to feed those interests. If I want to see Susan Boyle over and over, I’ll peep her on YouTube. When I tune in to a world news channel, I want world news.

I want my mornings to start with some mention of an election somewhere or some analysis of how the financial crisis is playing out around the globe.

If I want to start my days with ODB singing, “Hey, dirty, baby I got your money don’t you worry … I said hey!”… I might as well just keep the channel on MTV.

Jada F. Smith is a senior journalism major at Howard University. She works as a managing editor for the nation’s only daily black newspaper, The Hilltop.

is an intern at The Root and senior journalism major at Howard University.

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