Friday, October 04, 2002

Word To Your Anchor CNN has instructed its newscasters to invoke words like 'homey' and 'flava' in it's news reports in an effort to attract younger viewers.


From: AOL/Time-Warner, Staff Headquarters
To: Staff journalists
Re: Attracting Younger Viewers

As many of you are aware, recent surveys have revealed that viewership of CNN and CNN-Headline News has started to skew heavily to an older audience. While we are deeply honored by the appreciation we get from our mature audience and, in fact, have held a series of staff training exercises designed to raise awareness of age discrimination, we must also acknowledge that the young people are our future. Recent studies confirm that the 18-49 demographic will substantially outlive the 50-85 demographic.

As such, we are adopting a policy of controlled urban slang in relaying news items. Urban slang is a vocabulary style first used by inner-city people of color on recordings of a music style known as Rap or Hip-hop. It has since become very widely used as a form of communication amongst more mainstream younger persons, including those not of color.

Prior to attempting to infuse news copy with more a 'hep' style, it is important to assimilate some typical dialog. For this purpose we strongly recommend going to genuine sources - our focus group study indicates that reading of scholarly works on ebonics theory and renting a Denzel Washington movie will not suffice. Analysis shows the best results are achieved using the following techniques:
  • Watching music videos on BET, paying special attention to overweight, male artists.

  • Visit the local Abercrombie & Fitch and eavesdrop on the conversations of the young people around you. Do not attempt to buy anything as that may cause your name to appear in federal child sex offender databases.

  • Viewing movies in the House Party series. You may submit a reimbursement request for rental or purchase of one movie. There is no need to view more than one since they are nearly identical.

  • Purchase CDs from the Rap (or Urban) section of Tower Records. You may submit a reimbursement request for up to three CDs. Be wary of Vanilla Ice, Marky Mark, or Backstreet Boys as they may sound genuine to the uninitiated.
Remember, before you make use of any entertainment media it is appropriate to review the HR guideline document entitled Copyrighted Works: When What's Yours Is Really Ours.

To gauge your progress, please speak the following sound bites in front of a mirror and honestly assess your authenticity. If there is a teenager nearby, be sure to get feedback:
  • Ken Lay gone buckwild then he bounce hisself right outta here.

  • Saddam step to The Prez. The Prez say bring it.

  • Martha Stewart gone all scarface. Damn! Bitch is whack.

  • The Andrea Thompson is some Crazy Coochie.
Note that you may accentuate your authenticity with the use of certain gestures. The most common is to extend your right arm at a 45 degree angle, tense and splay your fingers, then deliberately draw your arm down and across your body. It is best to time this gesture to coincide with the dominant word in the phrase you are speaking.

There will also be company-wide initiatives to garner support for our new, youthful image. First, dress policy has been updated to allow for the wearing of baseball caps. Note that the caps must have a CNN (or other AOL/Time-Warner affiliate) logo, and must be worn backwards. Second, we will have a new tagline to be used in all CNN branded communications. The new tagline is "It's all good," and will be used in the new telecast voiceover by James Earl Jones: "This is CNN - It's all good". Additionally, CNN operators will greet all callers with "Thank you for calling CNN. It's All Good. How may I direct your call?"

We want to assure everyone that our youth initiative has the full support of senior management and working together in the dawn of this new millennium, we can make CNN young, stylish, and mad def. Yo.