CNN using hip-hop lingo to attract young viewers

News channel tries 'bling-bling' and 'flava' to reach audience.

The word on the street maybe "bling-bling," but CNN is still considering the use of such hip-hop phrase in their broadcast to draw in a younger audience.

CNN is exploring the possibilities of added slang phrases such as "flava" meaning style, "freak" meaning sex and "ill" meaning to act inappropriately to its news programs as a possible attempt to increase the news station's appeal to younger generations of viewers.

"CNN is taking a good idea to an ultimate illogical conclusion," said telecommunications professor Steve Bell. "If the language is only used by a small part of the audience, it will make it difficult to understand."

Bell said the use of slang words and phrases may add to an increase in viewership. However, there could many older people who discontinue watching the 24 hour news network due to its efforts to modernize its vocabulary. The current age of its viewers is reportedly 62.

"I can't believe that a few slang words would make that big of a difference," Bell said. "They could be used as an attention-getter, but the problem is that most slang words are judgment words; they offer an opinion and news writing tries not to use words that give an editorial opinion."

Tim Pollard, assistant professor of telecommunications, said CNN is working hard to target the younger generations.

"The news audience is shrinking," Pollard said. "It's spread out across the medium. People are getting there information from the Internet and (channels such as) Comedy Central rather from network news."

Pollard said many young people get most of their news from media outlets and television shows such as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and late night comedians such including Jay Leno and David Letterman.

CNN is reportedly trying to keep up with its competitors by working on ways to promote a trendy image often associated with such comedic performances.

Bell said the uses of such language could work at a college station, like "News Center 43," yet the goal of News Center is to reach out in to the community and the use of such new lingo would be a step back.

"CNN may get a little extra attention with the draw in from a few more viewers," Bell said. "Let's hope the quality of journalism warrants the attention."

Bell said the idea of journalism is to create a conversation with the reader or viewer, but to also be straight-forward and simple.

While journalism strives to be conversational, language must also be used in the appropriate context, he explained.

"It's hard to say if it would be effective," Pollard said. "Would a younger audience watch a news show if the language was more generational, and more cultural?"

However, Pollard said the decision ultimately lies with CNN's ratings and the effect the use of such words would have on its revenue.

"In the business world, stock price is everything," Pollard said.

Neither Pollard or Bell had any reason to believe slang phrases such as "fly" or "jimmy cap" would be added to the newest edition of the dictionary, since such words are already a part of modern vernacular.


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