MARTY RUSSELL: In TV, if it works do it again



By all accounts CNN struck ratings gold with its almost 24/7 coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. The network’s continuous coverage for the more than two weeks since the flight went missing on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that began on March 8 has doubled its ratings among that advertiser-desired demographic of those ages 25 to 54, according to the latest figures.

But now that it appears the search for the missing airliner and the 239 passengers and crew may be drawing to a close, the network is scrambling for ways to hold onto those ratings numbers and, as we all know, when network TV executives find a formula that works, they set out to duplicate it.

As a result, this is what we might expect in the coming days as interest in the Malaysian flight begins to wane.

“This is Anderson Cooper reporting on the latest on that missing flight of a vintage Lockheed Electra 10E attempting to circumnavigate the globe. The aircraft had successfully completed the first 22,000 miles of its journey and was on the last leg crossing the Pacific Ocean when it suddenly disappeared without a trace. Investigators are concerned because it’s been 77 years since the last radio transmission was received and they’re not sure how much longer the plane can stay aloft with its two passengers, an A. Earhart and an F. Noonan. Let’s go to CNN’s Martin Savidge in a flight simulator of the aircraft’s cockpit. Martin, what’s the latest?”

“Anderson, there’s speculation that it could have been zombies, but some think the aircraft made its intended landing on remote Howland Island and the crew was eaten by cannibals, although that doesn’t explain why the plane itself has not been spotted, although it very easily could have been sucked into a black hole or the Pacific version of the Bermuda Triangle.”

“Thanks, Marty. Now let’s check in on the other news. The acting president of Ukraine says officials are still dumbfounded by the sudden disappearance of an entire region of that country known as Crimea. Here’s what the president had to say to CNN.”

“When I went to bed last night, it was right there on the southern coast but when I got up this morning it was gone. We’re still hoping it can be recovered, but we’re afraid it may have broken off and fallen into the Black Sea or been abducted by aliens.”

“And in other news, the search continues for the missing bicycle of 11-year-old Timmy Jones of East Rutherford after it mysteriously vanished from outside P.S. 102 while little Timmy was in class. Here’s what the devastated Timmy had to say to CNN’s Don Lemon.”

“I think ET took it and rode it to the moon.”

Don’t laugh, stranger things have happened, and by that I mean the lengths network television execs will go to to achieve ratings.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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