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NEWSROOM for August 3, 2001

Aired August 3, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to your week-ending NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

Well, today's show is bookended with birthday wishes and good- byes. Here's a look at the rundown.

MTV turns 20 and we join the celebration in our "Top Story." Then in "Editor's Desk," another network prepares for the debut of its new look. And coming up in "Worldview," we discuss the price of art. Finally, we'll give you some tips on being well prepared for college.

Music Television or MTV turns 20 and holds a star studded party to celebrate. Among the guests: Aerosmith, Depeche Mode and Kid Rock, just to name a few. The network, supported by, cater to and all about you is aging with grace. If pop culture is king, one could argue that MTV is the power behind the throne.

Now Michael Okwu brings us a closer look at the network and its rise to success.


MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It built a brand on images. One of the first suggesting the sky was the limit. At 20, MTV may have gone farther than that with individual images often as fleeting as a fad, but collectively lasting enough to change popular culture forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never look at music the same way again.

OKWU: The image it first peddled was music you could see all the time and a click away. Though on its first night, even a click couldn't do it. To watch the launch its creators had to leave their Manhattan headquarters to find a cable system that carried MTV. Bob Pittman was a founder of MTV and is currently a senior executive at CNN's parent company, AOL Time Warner.

BOB PITTMAN, MTV FOUNDER: There were no profitable basic cable networks, as a matter of fact. So my friends said, "that's a good idea, but why don't you make it a pay network?" JUDY MCGRATH, PRESIDENT, MTV GROUP: How could we combine these two powerful things, music and television and come up with something fresh? I there was absolutely no sense that it would work.

OKWU: Eventually just about everybody got their MTV. Today, the network says it is viewed in 342 million households worldwide, a far cry from its one million viewers in 1981. Last year, its combined networks made more than $3 billion.

The right images obviously work. But is it style over substance?

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, "TIME": MTV has changed the music business. Because of MTV, acts had to be a lot more visual.

DAVID BROWNE, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Back in the late '80s when Heart was still around and its lead singer Ann Wilson started putting on a few pounds and they digitally removed some of her weight. They literally squished her.

OKWU: With fans eager to sample the latest eye candy, MTV made an event out of the video debut and placed a renewed emphasis on the individual single.

ANTHONY DECURTIS, CONTRIB. EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE": In the '60s and '70s, artists fought for the right to make albums, to get away from having singles, to make a kind of full statement. And in many ways MTV has helped shape what the music industry is to this day, the idea that you have an album by a specific artist with six, seven, eight huge hits on it.

OKWU: The formula helped to transform mere musicians into stars, and stars into icons. Just when critics said it was too slick, that there was too much motion and not enough music, it launched the unplugged series.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MTV has never been afraid of those contradictions, never been afraid of risk.

OKWU: And then it seemed to abandon music again in favor of animated series, reality programs, and comedies. Image and attitude made MTV the first choice on cable for the 12-24 set, and the attitude on the programming schedule was decidedly irreverent.

MCGRATH: I think our mantra has always been "evolve or die."

OKWU: In 1992, it put young people in an apartment, filmed them 24/7 and called it "The Real World." Years later, in the real, real world, the networks all but conceded, "you beat us to it."

PETER CASTRO, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: The influence of MTV is far reaching. It's in movies, it's in advertising.

DECURTIS: Any film trailer that you see is essentially an MTV video.

OKWU: Critics complain that it no longer features cutting edge music, that there is too much sexuality. But its commitment to political issues that resonate with for young people has made it a required stop for politicians who would be president. And in spite of early charges that it didn't feature black artists, it's become one of the least segregated spots on the television landscape.

CARSON DALY, MTV HOST: We are all about marrying the worlds. If anything, MTV has really helped most of the racial barriers out.

OKWU: Don't try to predict what you will see on MTV 20 years from now.

PITTMAN: We made a decision not to grow old with our audience. It's the Peter Pan network.

OKWU: And that's the image MTV hopes will stick: a network at 20, but always a teenager.

Michael Okwu, CNN Entertainment News, New York.


BAKHTIAR: The United States has delayed opening its highways to Mexican trucks, a move that has outraged Mexican President Vicente Fox. The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to impose safety standards on Mexican trucks coming into the U.S. Critics say Mexico's trucks are poorly maintained and often carry overweight loads or are driven by untrained drivers. Politicians in Mexico say those are illegitimate excuses.

Harris Whitbeck has the details.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day, hundreds of Mexican trucks, like this one, cross the border into the United States, but they can only go so far. The U.S. does not allow the Mexican trucks to go beyond a 20 mile or 33 kilometer commercial zone along the border. And likewise, Mexico hasn't allowed U.S. trucks beyond its commercial zone.

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill prohibiting the transit of Mexican trucks past the commercial zone, citing safety concerns. Mexican President Vicente Fox says that bill violates the North American Free Trade Agreement and he promises retaliation.

VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): There are no American trucks in Mexico and they won't be here unless we reach a mutual, fair and well-reasoned agreement on this.

WHITBECK: Many in Mexico don't believe safety is behind the U.S. Senate bill.

ANTONIO ORTIZ MENA, ANALYST: I believe the real issue behind the trucking dispute has to do with domestic politics. On the one hand, you have the Teamsters who are opposed to the entry of Mexican trucks into the United States. They fear competition from low wages. I don't think it has to do really with the quality of the trucks or the ability of Mexican truck drivers. And on the other hand, we have Mexican truck drivers who feel they cannot compete with the very large U.S. fleet and the very sophisticated logistics they have.

WHITBECK: The Mexican government insists its trucks should receive the same treatment U.S. trucks would be entitled to in Mexico under NAFTA. Currently, trucks from both the U.S. and Mexico must stop at the border and transfer their loads to local trailers in a time-consuming process.

(on camera): And the stakes are high, 86 percent of the trade between Mexico and the United States is transported by trucks. The Mexican government says making sure that transportation method is efficient is one priority. Making sure it is treated fairly by its northern partner is another one.

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Mexico City.


BAKHTIAR: In our "Editor's Desk" today, we take a look at the relaunch of CNN Headline News. The network originally known as CNN 2 debuted in 1982. It's motto: "Around the World in 30 Minutes." Next week, Headline News reinvents itself but it keeps its commitment to providing fast-paced news suited to busy lives.

Andrea Biderman provides a preview and a behind-the-scenes look at the work involved in this transformation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're changing.

ANDREA BIDERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As it rolls out an updated look this Monday, Headline News is likely to make headlines.

JAMES YATES, ASSOCIATE SET DESIGNER: Not only are they doing a fresh look, they're doing, you know, new music, they're taking a new direction, they're going to totally relaunch.

BIDERMAN: You'll see a lot of new faces on a new set. Headline News is getting a face-lift that would even make Joan Rivers jealous.

(on camera): But what exactly does it take to relaunch an entire network? I'll take you behind the scenes to show you how, as the slogan says, they're changing everything but their name.

(voice-over): A team in Florida spent months building the set before driving it in pieces to the CNN Center in Atlanta. Crews in Atlanta then unloaded trucks at 5:00 a.m. before assembling the set in its new home.

TAYA RYAN (ph), EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HEADLINE NEWS: This is just pulsating news. It's just constant. BIDERMAN: Taya Ryan, executive vice president of Headline News, wanted to create a newscast to accommodate a fast paced lifestyle and the set had to convey this sense of urgency for viewers on the go. Its circular news desk inspires a continuous flow of news from anchor to anchor.

The circle isn't complete without some new faces to compliment the state-of-the-art studio. You probably already know some of them, like Andrea Thompson from "NYPD Blue." Thompson and CNN's veteran Miles O'Brien are co-anchoring the 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. prime time slot. They lead a team of six that report on the latest from technology to entertainment. Prior to relaunch, newscasts were recorded, making it difficult to cover breaking stories. As part of the change, Headline News will go to 18 hours of live TV. The set has 17 cameras. That's 15 more than used now.

Making these changes was a challenge. This kind of fast paced newscast requires advanced technology. The network created special software and seasoned employees have gone back to the classroom for some new training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll learn to take an ordinary claim, trailer park kind of looking newscast, turn it into the swimsuit edition.

BIDERMAN: Sorry guys, the anchors won't be in bikinis, but this screen does have a hot new design. It has weather maps, stock market and sports information, so time crunched viewers, this is for you.

Now even though the set dazzles and the screen is dynamic, can Headline News pull it all off? With adrenaline pumping and excitement building, producers, writers, anchors and technical staff have been rehearsing for weeks to be ready for Monday's debut. And rehearsals aren't always perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, God, I could not remember the line.

BIDERMAN: But staff members are confident they can work out the kinks. They even manage to have a little fun in the process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the West Coast all the way to Florida, there's a -- there's a CNN front. I think it's moving north.

BIDERMAN: Laugher aside, everyone here is geared up and ready to change the way Headline News does the news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not only trying to change the way we visually do this, we're trying to change the way and the style of journalism that we do.

BIDERMAN: Is Headline News as unique as it promises? We'll all find out on Monday.

Andrea Biderman, Atlanta, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BAKHTIAR: Time to get set for "Worldview" and all kinds of adventure. We'll get some impressions of art masterpieces and we'll go on a treasure hunt in Thailand where a monk is providing a golden opportunity. Then, we'll take you to the top of the Seattle Space Needle. What a view. And we'll enter the outer reaches of Bangladesh to track some tigers.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Bangladesh is a South Asian country sandwiched between India and Myanmar. Filled with natural resources, rivers and forests, it is also home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger which makes its home in the Sunderbans. The Sunderbans, also called the Sunderbans, is a swampy region along the Ganga delta. It contains the largest mangrove forest in the world. Two-thirds of its 6,000 square kilometers or 3,750 miles lies in the southwestern delta regions of Bangladesh, the remaining third is in India.

The Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sunderbans is being threatened by a number of factors such as illegal fishing, logging and tiger poaching. And problems like global warming are also taking a toll.

Will it survive the human impact and environmental factors and what of the Bengal tiger? The Sunderbans is one of the few areas where the long-term genetic viability of the tiger is possible due to habitat size. Exact figures are not available, but it's estimated that fewer than 400 Royal Bengal Tigers remain in the Bangladeshi Sunderbans. Limited numbers of armed government forest guards are in charge of protecting the area against poachers.

CNN's Student Bureau's Sadiq Islam of Dhaka, Bangladesh, takes a closer look at the problems facing the Sunderbans.


SADIQ ISLAM, CNN STUDENT BUREAU REPORTER (voice-over): Bangladesh normally brings to mind images of overpopulation, poverty, floods and general strife. Few realize that this is also the home of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sunderbans.

HOHAMMAD RAZZAQ, FISHERMAN (through translator): The fish are dying. The water level goes up and the fish die.

ISLAM: Fishing and tourism are ruining the natural equilibrium of the Sunderbans.

MARK MOZENA, STUDENT FROM THE U.S.: When I was there, a boat went by and just dumped their garbage in the water. People just don't care.

ISLAM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) station is robbing the Bengal tigers of their largest natural habitat. With the tiger population down to 200 to 250 and an insufficient effort to research it, the fate of the tiger is uncertain.

TESSA MCGREGOR, BIOLOGIST AND TIGER EXPERT: It's not a bleak nor bright, it's a complex future. It's got a lot of problems to be overcome and in the near future but it's still a very big forest. To give up then there's no future and I hope the future of Sunderbans will be bright for the tiger and for the people.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: In Southeast Asia, Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is also its chief port and much industry and retail is located in the area. Exports, manufacturing, agriculture and services have expanded over the past few years. Nevertheless, for the widening gap between the rich and poor, Thailand's economic development has not come quickly enough for some.

CNN's John Raedler reports on what some people are doing and donating to help the country.


JOHN RAEDLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crisis erupted in Thailand four years ago. Since then, a Buddhist monk has been urging Thais to donate gold and other valuables to shore up the country's reserves. This week, he handed over to a special government fund more than $400,000 in cash and gold, a donation Thailand's central bank governor was pleased to receive.

PRIDLYATHORN DEVAKULA, GOVERNOR OF BANK OF THAILAND: In this currency reserve account, it's a kind of reserve that we don't touch. It's really a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sum. This additional sum would strengthen the reserve.

RAEDLER: Overall, since Thailand's currency and economy crashed in mid-1997, the monk has raised around $5 million. A lot of the donations come in the form of gold jewelry, like rings and earrings, which is melted and consolidated into bars.

The donations are still coming in, says one of the monk's organizers. We have been getting more than one kilogram of gold per day.

The monk's campaign is much lauded around Thailand but all that glitters is not gold. The country is still struggling to recover from the economic devastation that was unleashed on it four years ago.

John Raedler, CNN, Bangkok.


WALCOTT: Now "Worldview" gets artsy with a look into the vibrant world of impressionism. Painters, sculptures and musicians have created impressionistic works of art throughout the years, but the term impressionism refers mainly to a group of French artists who, between 1870 and 1910, revolutionized painting style with their own bright colorful creations.

It's an art form that depicts the immediate impression of an object or event. Artists attempt to create what the eye sees at a glance with a special focus on the reflections of light. You've probably heard of the famous impressionists painters like Monet, Renoir, Degas and Desaro. In fact, impressionism drew its name from Claude Monet's painting called "Impression Sunrise."

Richard Quest has more on the big bucks some of their paintings are raking in.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the world of art, it doesn't get much finer than this: a Monet that hasn't been seen in public for more than a century. It's one of a series of haystacks that he painted. This one went for millions. The quality of pictures on offer was exceptional. Another Monet, a Renoir, a Matisse, even Van Gogh,

HELENA NEWMAN, SOTHEBY'S: There's every indication that the very best examples which are fresh to the market and in fact have the condition of selling at highest prices ever.

QUEST (on camera): The impressionists are, of course, the top of the pops in the art world so it's no surprise that the sale went well.

(voice-over): The contemporary pictures tend to be harder to understand, perhaps. Damien Hirst is a favorite with this work, as is his sculpture. This one's up for grabs, whatever it may be.

Richard Quest, CNN Financial News, Sotheby's, London.


WALCOTT: When you think of the city of Seattle, what comes to mind -- a good cup of coffee, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, maybe Microsoft computers. Well, for many people the internationally recognized symbol of the Pacific Northwest has nothing to do with Starbucks or incredible mountain views or even Bill Gates. Seattle is perhaps best known for the Space Needle. The Space Needle stands about 605 feet high or about 185 meters giving the Seattle skyline a very unique look. The steel structure was built in 1962 for Seattle's World's Fair. Construction cost $4.5 million. The top of the Needle offers an incredible 360-degree view of Seattle's most striking scenery.

Lilian Kim has more on the needle and why so many people can't wait to make the journey to its top.


LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 10 miles per hour, it's a quick ride to the top, 43 seconds to the observation deck where breathtaking views await. Mount Rainier, the downtown skyline and Puget Sound are what make the Space Needle a viewing hot spot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very proud of myself for coming up this high.

KIM: While not the highest point in the city, it is the highlight of the Seattle skyline. Towering at 605 feet, the Space Needle attracts a million visitors a year. Built in 1962 for the futuristic World's Fair, the steel structure became an instant hit among Seattleites and the rest of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the steel beams went up in the Space Needle, the advanced ticket sales began to grow and grow until there was an absolute mania. It became overnight the symbol of the Pacific Northwest.

KIM: Just below the observation deck, visitors get a different perspective, a rotating restaurant completes a full circle every 47 minutes. But while diners peer down on the city, the city is peering back at them.

JEFFREY WRIGHT, SPACE NEEDLE CORP.: I've sort of put the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle in categories by itself where they're very unique architectural structures and not just a tower on a stick or a tower in the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have anything like this in Arkansas.

KIM: A unique structure that for decades has stood as Seattle's top tourists attraction and a source of pride for the Pacific Northwest.

(on camera): You may be wondering how the space needle held up during February's 6.8 earthquake. Well, it did just fine. It swayed about 2 feet, but no damage to the structure itself.

Lilian Kim, CNN, Seattle.


BAKHTIAR: Well, fall is just around the corner and so is the start of another school year. The mere thought of that brings anxiety to a lot of students, especially those preparing to enter college for the first time. College freshman face a host of new challenges, including the ability to learn at a new level and keep up with students from different states.

Mari Hayes explains.


MARI HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nationwide, high school graduates are preparing for college life. Incoming freshmen are getting ready for what is supposedly the time of their lives. But despite the diploma now in their hands, college rookies don't realize time may need to be spent in preparation for college academics. As these college students explain, academic readiness may depend on the state you live in.

ANNA FINCHER, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: I had to work a lot harder than some of the other people that I noticed and especially when I got into the higher level classes, you know differential equations, you know math classes, physics, things like that, I had to work a lot harder.

ROBIN MEAGNER, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Chemistry was a rough class for me. I put in a lot of studying and it was a big shock when I found out what the grades I had been receiving and I was pretty upset, slightly bitter towards my public school education.

HAYES: Feelings of unpreparedness and inferiority to classmates from other states is not a figment of a student's imagination. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, where it's more commonly known as the Nation's Report Card, show disparities do exist between states. For example, in 1998, 8th graders in Maine, who in August of 2001 will enter the 12th grade and begin their college search, scored a 273 in reading. That's 12 points above the national average, while 8th graders in Hawaii scored a 250, 23 points lower than their northern counterparts. Maine and Hawaii aren't the only states whose test scores bear discrepancies. As shown, at least 14 state's scores were considerably lower than NAEP averages.

(on camera): As students often point out when bringing home their own grades, keep in mind that numerous factors implements the Nation's Report Card. Every state faces unique educational challenges, but that doesn't mean college bound students from a state with low NAEP scores can't adequately prepare for college courses.

(voice-over): Dean Joanne Brzinski of Emory University advises how incoming freshmen can maximize academic success during their first year.

JOANNE BRZINSKI, DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Carefully choose your college classes to try and maximize your preparation. Invest in some good basic books. Strunk White's "Elements of Style" is something that every college freshman should have in their dorm. Professors have office hours. A lot of times no student shows up until it's time for a test. Professors are more than happy to work with you early on with difficulties that you're having in a course and they can give you a lot of suggestions about how to improve.

HAYES: As this principal explains, pushing yourself beyond dictated curriculum while in high school can make the difference in college.

PETER ZERVAKOS, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Don't just stop at what the requirements are, go at least one or two courses farther. Take an extra foreign language, take even extra in the areas of English and social studies.

HAYES: Advanced Placement, or AP classes, are also available, enabling a high school student to engage in college level work at a college level pace.

ZERVAKOS: Contrary, a lot of students fell that less fearful, like the top 5 percent, and all the truth of the matter is that if the student is on grade level, they should be successful with the Advanced Placement program even if they don't score high enough on the national exam to get college credit. It prepares them, and again, and that gives them a chance to see how they compare to other students because it's a national exam and a national curriculum.

MEAGNER: It's probably the best thing you can do is talk to your professors and study just that much more. Just expect to study that much more. And you might need to study a lot more than your friends but that's something you need to do to get the grades you want.

FINCHER: What I'd recommend doing just, you know, going the extra mile even if you're still making an A and, you know, getting the passing grade to go, you know, further into your studies and to be interested in what you're doing.

HAYES: Disappointing to realize that the last leg of high school, typically the least vigorous of times, may be where you need to kick yourself into high gear. But then again, taking the time to utilize resources available now may be much less painful than recovering from the blow you'll receive after getting back that first college exam.

Mari Hayes, CNN NEWSROOM, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: OK, guys, today is my last day on CNN NEWSROOM, and it's with a lot of mixed emotions that I move on to CNN's Headline News because I've enjoyed reporting to our world student audience. I've enjoyed hearing from you, meeting some of you and touching your lives because you guys have really touched mine as well.

Before we go, I'd like to say a special thanks to our editorial staff and our technical staff who work very hard to bring this show to you guys everyday, especially our line producer, Tracy Harris (ph), who does it with so much pizzazz and makes it so much fun for all of us. I'd also like to thank our executive producer, Jay Suber, because he's made more than a few of my dreams come true.

Thank you for making me a part of your world -- bye.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM is part of Cable in the Classroom, a service of the cable television industry and your local cable company.



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