R.I.P. MTV News (1987-2023): Headbanging the Headlines

Posted on May 15, 2023

by Eric P

Gather round, children, and listen and believe: there used to be a thing called MTV News. No, seriously. But now it’s gone. MTV is still around, but MTV News is no more. “Sounds like an experiment that didn’t work out,” you might think, but at the time of its expiry in May of 2023, MTV News was older than Rihanna.

MTV News interviewed Yasir Arafat and covered Hurricane Katrina but also whatever the Black Crowes were up to. That juxtaposition seemed silly even at the time; Saturday Night Live made fun of it and Ben Stiller’s comedy The Cable Guy borrowed its noisy logo for overblown fake news breaks.

Fronted by Kurt Loder’s grumpy gravitas and Tabitha Soren’s straight-faced A-student grit, MTV News periodically achieved its goal of being a kind of short-form PBS NewsHour for young people with new wave haircuts. MTV broke the news of Kurt Cobain’s death and was the first to ask what kind of underwear Bill Clinton wore. MTV News pushed young people to register to vote. Via MTV News, the music video network was as proactive and urgent about feeding current events to its audience as it was about making Carson Daly famous for some reason.

But parent company Paramount confirms that MTV News is done. It’s one of those kinds of things that, when you hear about it, you think “I didn’t even know they were still around.” But MTV News covered the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War; it was how most of us found out about Biggie and Tupac and that Madonna was splitting up with Sean Penn. It may not have been the most dignified news source of its day, but neither was it the least dignified news source of ours.

There aren’t a bunch of books about MTV News – yet – but here are some library materials that are MTV News-adjacent.

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