Up All Night | Lisa Napoli

Summary of: Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News
By: Lisa Napoli


Embark on a fascinating journey exploring the origins of the world’s first 24-hour news channel and the larger-than-life man behind it in Lisa Napoli’s ‘Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News.’ Traverse through Ted Turner’s early life, his struggles and experiences, all of which culminated in the inception of CNN and undoubtedly revolutionized the news industry forever. As you learn about the challenges faced by Turner and his colleagues, discover the daring and tenacity that shaped their pursuit of continuous coverage, and the impact this had not just on the media landscape but on advertising as well.

CNN’s Upheaval

Journalist Lisa Napoli takes readers through the rise of CNN, Turner’s powerful personality, and the channel’s significant impact on news broadcasting. Napoli emphasizes Ted Turner’s eccentricity and rarely credited contribution to the industry as a true broadcasting pioneer. CNN’s shift towards emphasizing live reports and broadcasting 24 hours a day revolutionized the news world and was the first-ever all-news cable TV channel, as detailed in Napoli’s work.

Ted Turner’s Resilience

Ted Turner faces personal and professional setbacks, including his father’s suicide, and turns them into triumphs as he takes over his father’s billboard company, increases sales, and saves his struggling television station, Channel 17. Despite skepticism from New York media, Turner’s persistence and willingness to take risks ultimately lead him to found CNN, disrupting the news and advertising industry.

Ted Turner’s Unconventional Media Strategy

Ted Turner’s innovative media strategy began with a radio station he bought in Tennessee, which he promoted with billboard space to adopt a Top 40 music format. He went on to acquire three more stations before purchasing Channel 17 and launching it as WTCG on January 1, 1970. Turner’s desire to eliminate wasted space led him to make WTCG the first 24-hour television station in the US. He also acquired the broadcast rights to Atlanta Braves baseball games and boosted profits by accepting direct-response commercials. Turner’s unconventional news program featured on-camera characters like “the Unknown Newsman” and a German shepherd co-anchor, leading to a flood of fan mail and merchandise orders.

How Ted Turner Revolutionized Television

In the 70s, Ted Turner used cable television to expand Channel 17’s audience and purchased the Atlanta Braves, raising attendance. Turner believed network news shows failed to inform Americans properly and aimed to compete with them by starting the Cable News Network (CNN) with Reese Schonfeld in 1978. CNN was a nonstop news operation set up under nine independent television stations, introducing a new era in broadcast journalism. Turner’s sports programming, library of old movies, and all-night broadcasting schedule were unrivaled, demonstrating his ability to create an empire out of broadcast television.

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