I suggest that an American news network launch a 24/7 channel dedicated to the Iraq war and related subjects. The only network with the potential to do so immediately is CNN. CNN might program Headline News to deliver 2 minutes of world headlines on the hour and half-hour and commit the rest of its time to coverage of the war in Iraq. Headline is seen in 85mln HHs and with a flip of the switch CNN could bring the war, its events and implications, an overview and the details into the awareness of almost all Americans. Why is this necessary? We are the lead combatant in a war between civilizations, a war between the forces of reason and the forces of barbarism. Losing or winning may define the history of America, perhaps the history of the world, for the next 100 years. An event that important deserves a news channel of its own. There’s much going on in Iraq that the four cable news networks ignore. The half-hour network news shows at best devote a few minutes per program to summarize the developments in Iraq. The war must be covered in context and in detail. Only a 24/7 Iraq news network can grab the attention of the general public and bring Americans to an understanding of what’s going on in the battle between the forces of fundamentalism and the forces of reason. A 24/7 network would have the time and resources to cover "good news" stories, the bridges being built, schools being opened, pipelines being repaired or even kids getting candy from Marines. At the same time, it would cover the daily travails of average Iraqis: power outages, water shortages, and lack of security. Graphics updated every day could summarize: the number of schools opened, the number of hours of electricity, the number of bridges built, the number of homes without running water, the number of violent attacks, the number of insurgents killed or captured and the number of casualties on all sides. To cover stories like this a network would need an infrastructure akin to CNN, i.e. a Washington bureau, Uzbekistan coverage, constant access to material from the Middle East and a basic worldwide news service. The hardest part is covering Iraq itself. I admit that’s a tough job. A 24/7 Iraq news channel would need bureaus (and security) in Basra, Mosul, Baghdad, in northwestern Iraq, probably embedded with U.S. soldiers and marines and in at least 1 Sunni-dominated area, where heavy private security would be needed. Even in other parts of Iraq the network would have to hire independent contractors to provide heavy duty security for the bureaus and crews in the field. The network would have to buy fully armored vehicles, the best-armored vests; hire a large cadre of Arab and Kurdish translators and employ researchers with degrees in Arab studies. Obviously a 24/7 Iraq channel is an expensive proposition. It costs a lot but it is worth far more. The information it gathers and the insights it provides would be invaluable. One of our goals in creating the Iraq network is to provide Americans, who are spending lives and money on this war, with the information they need to make intelligent decisions about it; to make sure that they know that Iraq is a high-stakes game and that its results will influence the lives of their children and grandchildren. Americans will not be the only viewers of our network. World leaders will also watch the 24/7 network. If the war were better understood leaders and people of other nations could better comprehend whether or not it was in their interest to help us and America’s leaders make the hardest choice: either get serious or get out. I do not kid myself. A 24/7 Iraq network will be costly and probably earn less revenue. So why should CNN do it? Sometimes (particularly when you’re a distant number two) prestige is more important than profit. The 24/7 Iraq Channel would prove CNN is "The World’s Most Important Network." Reese Schonfeld is founding CEO of CNN. A larger version of this essay can be found at: https://www.cablefax.com/cfax/schonfel.htm

The Daily



Peacock President Kelly Campbell is drawing from the Hulu bench, tapping Annie Luo to serve as EVP, Global Partnerships and Strategic Development.

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