The CNN International Edition

On great weather soundtracks, Ralitsa Vassileva, and jet lag

Wishing WITI contributor Mark Slavonia a very happy birthday! -Colin (CJN)

Colin here.
With quarantine plus election, North American WITI readers have probably OD’d on the US-based version of CNN. The format is the cable equivalent of a Ford F-150 Raptor: with drama dialed up to level 11 and an ever-present breaking news chyron even if the news isn’t really breaking. 

It can all feel a bit like an episode of 24. Plus, a lot of the programming is what I like to call “jump ball” interviews, where a question is thrown up to a panel of guests with results that resemble the start of a 6-year-old’s basketball game. Turns out this is easier to do than produce long, reported packages with fact checking. 

All of these feelings came flooding back recently when I was turned onto the fact that Hulu carried CNN International, the sane cousin of the American version. In the US, CNN is cable only, but internationally it is carried on a variety of TV platforms. It is also shown through a lens of rotating studios, from London, Hong Kong, and Abu Dhabi. As the day progresses, you move around the world at a brisk pace. I’d frequently have CNN international as a reliable companion while travelling around the world. Everything about it—in particular the catchy and rotating theme weather theme song—just cheered me up (the Arabic version even has filtered synths and swelling strings). I realized it was an audio/visual comfort blanket for a year of constrained movement. 

Why is this interesting? 

On its face, CNN International is a much different beast than CNN in the US. For one, there is a wider mix of reportage from around the world. You’re more likely to see stories from what is happening in Yemen, stories from Africa, as well as some set-piece shows you can’t see (as often) in the US: Marketplace Africa, Richard Quest (you come to love him in time) on CNN Business Traveller, and more. 

Also, the anchoring on CNN International is imbued with a bit more gravitas. A lot of their talent have spent long careers in the field reporting around the world. Notably, I love Becky Anderson’s hosting on Connect the World out of Abu Dhabi, and CNN Newsroom, which correspondent Michael Holmes hosts. And though she’s no longer on the network, I remember Ralitsa Vassileva’s thoughtful dispatches when away from home. 

Most of all, like an old distant friend, I missed the nuances in the sounds, graphics, programming of CNN International. So, I figured out how to access it in the US: With the Live TV version of Hulu, you can tune in. While it’s not cheap, it keeps me informed and brings back fond memories of waking up early at the Upper House in Hong Kong or in the Serena in Kigali. (CJN)

Chart of the day:

From the FT on Europe’s growing AstraZeneca stockpile (NRB)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) 

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