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The Future of 24-Hour News

New Directions, New Challenges

Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook

Over the last 30 years 24-hour television news channels have reshaped the practice and culture of journalism. But the arrival of new content and social media platforms over recent years has challenged their power and authority, with fast-changing technologies accelerating the speed of news delivery and reshaping audience behaviour. Following on from The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives (Cushion and Lewis, 2010), this volume explores new challenges and pressures facing television news channels, and considers the future of 24-hour news. Featuring a wide range of industry and academic perspectives, including the heads of some of the major international news channels (BBC Global News, Al Jazeera and Sky News, among others) as well as leading academics from around the world, contributors reflect on how well rolling television news is reinventing itself for digital platforms and the rapidly changing expectations of audiences. Overall, the 24 chapters in this volume deliver fresh insights into how 24-hour news channels have redefined rolling news journalism – or potentially could do – in order to remain relevant and effective in supplying continuous news for 21st-century audiences.
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Chapter 10: Revisiting the Three Phases of 24-Hour News Television in the Age of Social Media


← 114 | 115 →CHAPTER TEN

Revisiting the Three Phases of 24-Hour News Television in the Age of Social Media


On the 30th anniversary of the launch of CNN—the first dedicated news channel, which began broadcasting in 1980—I examined how 24-hour news television had evolved over three decades. In brief, it was suggested the rolling news genre and the way it had been studied by scholars could be interpreted within three overlapping phases (Cushion, 2010).

First, a “coming of age” phase when CNN was launched and grew in recognition, most notably in its live reporting of the first Gulf War. While other channels emerged in this period—Europe’s first rolling news channel, Sky News, in 1989, for example—it took until the early 1990s before the perceived influence of CNN triggered the arrival of other channels with similar ambitions.

With the availability and penetration of cable or satellite services increasing post–Gulf War, the second phase can be characterized as a race for transnational reach and influence. Euronews’s arrival in 1993, for example, was created in a bid to develop a European identity and present a challenge to the monopoly of American news channels with a global reach. Likewise, Al Jazeera’s launch in 1996 provided coverage that addressed, for the first time, Middle Eastern audiences.

The last overlapping and ongoing phase marks a stage when news channels began to scale down aspirations, with a...

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