Fox News Channel used to say: “We Report. You Decide” -- and used the slogan “Fair and Balanced” for a time, which sounds like a fair approach. But it may not always come out that way -- especially when looking at strongly opinionated prime-time fare.
MSNBC used to promote a “This is Who We Are” tagline.
CNN has a current theme: “The Voices We Empower. We Are CNN.” And ”The Journalists Who Can Inspire Tomorrow. We Are CNN.”
So what focus should be counted on for forthcoming marketing-campaign innovations? Less obvious political associations? More in-depth descriptors of journalists? Or something in between?
The drama behind the recent leadership disruptions at CNN makes plenty of executives wonder what comes next for legacy TV news business as they look to the next wave of marketing their channels.
Recent CNN profiles have addressed the difficult task of trying to bring back TV news networks as straight-ahead, no nonsense, news-gathering channels.
Analysts say this may be impossible in a world of partisan politics and strong allegiances to existing news brands. All this comes amidst increasing fractionalization of news audiences. Not just via legacy TV channels but factoring in social-media platforms, where around 60% of U.S. consumers can get their news from time to time.
All this competition has forced channels to make radical decisions in terms of differentiation. You know -- a bit of that extra spice: Opinion-based content.
Going further, the question might be how edgy and radically opinionated TV news can we get.
Some would say -- look at Fox News Channel. It has not slowed down -- even after losing its case against Dominion Voting System, where it settled on paying out $787 million. All that opinion -- good, bad, indifferent, or just plain wrong -- continues to draw major attention.
Fox's new revamped prime-time lineup still has strong leading prime-time ratings -- at least above its competitors. Sans Tucker Carlson, Fox prime time posted 1.9 million average viewers in the most recent mid-July period. Far behind were MSNBC (1.2 million) and CNN (523,000).
During his recent short reign at the top, chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide Chris Licht believed a more straight-ahead, less partisan, old-school approach was the better way to go for the future.
That turned out to be a disaster culminating in the Donald Trump Town Hall earlier this year as a highly receptive audience lapped up the content -- fictional and otherwise -- which all but drowned out the CNN interviewer Kaitlan Collins, attempting to do her best in posing tough questions.
Marketing TV news channels these days can be a fine line to navigate. Analysts may attach monikers such as “conservative-leaning,” ‘liberal-leaning" names or CNN's case, “slightly-left leaning channel.”
But channels themselves want to be above it all.