In 1985, the punk band Dead Kennedys demanded “MTV Get Off The Air.” In 2023, at least one part of MTV has done so- their news segments. Shutting down their news department is part of a larger string of layoffs due to budget cuts at MTV’s parent company, Paramount Global.
“MTV News” originally launched in 1987 as “The Week in Rock,” hosted by former Rolling Stone writer Kurt Loder. It soon became a touchstone for Generation X and older Millennials who didn’t feel that more traditional news outlets were covering the issue that they cared about.
Correspondents like Loder, Tabitha Soren, SuChin Pak, Gideon Yago, and Alison Stewart obviously covered things like music and pop culture. But they also delved into politics and more “real” news. In 1994 Soren and Stewart led a town hall discussion with (at the time) President Bill Clinton, for MTV’s “Enough Is Enough.” The forum mostly focused on violence in America, crime, and balancing personal freedom with social responsibility. But this is also where Clinton famously answered that he mostly wore briefs over boxers.
After that, “MTV News” held town halls with Barack Obama, John McCain, Bill Gates, and other influential figures. While these discussions were always focused on more serious matters, boxers vs briefs kept finding its way into the conversion. Over its thirty-six-year run, MTV News’ correspondents pulled in Emmys and Peabody Awards for their work.
After its launch, “MTV News” evolved into short-form segments shown between programs at the top of the hour. But the format was flexible enough that it could change for breaking news. Like on April 8th, 1994, when they interrupted regular programming with Loder announcing the tragic death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Despite how much it shaped pop culture over its first few decades, “MTV News” began to lose traction after the early 2000s. Many blamed this on their move to more digital content to compete with outlets like Vice and BuzzFeed. In 2017 the company said it wanted to refocus on short-form content and video to return to its roots. Which did seem to be upping its web traffic, but apparently not enough to save it from Paramount’s axe.
Check out Loder’s last appearance on “MTV News,” as a part of a fake broadcast to promote the show “Yellowjackets,” below: