While CNN continues to post exceptional ratings covering the Japan earthquake as well as the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, MSNBC flounders in third place.
Part of the problem is the network’s reliance on its pre-taped “Lockup” series that airs on weekend nights.
The shows fare well, but some people think MSNBC — which bills itself as a news network first and foremost — should have abandoned Lockup recently and focused on the news.
And judging by Twitter’s reaction during the Japan Tsunami they are not alone.
“I think MSNBC really blew it,” Judy Muller, an associate professor of journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and former network news correspondent, told the New York Times. “They lost a great opportunity to set themselves out as one of the few places people can get breaking news. When you are near a nuclear meltdown, I can’t imagine a decision to go with your regular programming at that point.”
Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, stewarded the network as it has gained a following for its liberal viewpoint and commentators. Absent an international crisis, its ratings are routinely higher than CNN’s.
Griffin insists MSNBC remains a news network, most of the time.
“Our strategy has gone in a different direction on the weekends,” he said. “It works. It’s very effective. Unfortunately, during this kind of time, it’s always a bit complicated.”
It is complicated, but Muller is correct. MSNBC had access to NBC’s correspondents in Libya. The executives should have made the decision to pull Lockup and use them.
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