The Obvious

Fishing in a stocked pond

Millions of us have been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight.

At first, I thought I might be more interested than most because I grew up in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur and still have a lot of really good friends — virtual family — living there.

And, I do a lot of international travel, especially on the Boeing 777, so the thought of the type of plane I flew two weeks ago to Europe having some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure was also pretty compelling.

I found myself switching between FOX and CNN for the latest live updates, and CNN won that contest, adding live update shows well after midnight eastern time in the US.

CNN basically became the Malaysian Airlines Mystery station for the past couple of weeks, spending very little time on any other news. They used Twitter to solicit questions from viewers for their panels of experts, and their late evening coverage became very interactive with viewers.

FOX covered it well, though once their evening talk shows began, they still stuck mainly to politics. FOX definitely spent more time on the Ukrainian situation, which is certainly warranted, and which affords their normal partisan political angle.

So I found it very interesting to see that CNN’s audience surged over 60% since the first alert came about the missing plane.

FOX was up too, though modestly, and still dominates viewing, but it’s been that way now for years, and CNN has tried lots of things, including management changes to try to compete and grow their audience. Apparently live coverage of a plane crash/hijack/mystery halfway around the world is what they’ve needed.

All to say that if you want to catch a lot of fish, drop your hook in a pond that’s stocked.

If you want big ratings, talk about those things your listeners/viewers are already talking about — even if you don’t have that much new information to share.