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Monday, August 08, 2005

The End of an Era: Is network news dead?

Tonight's untimely announcement of passing of Peter Jennings is a time for reflection and sadness. Throughout my life I have been a news aficionado and I have watched Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw since I was small. Previously I had watched the NBC Nightly News every night with my parents and had actually been conditioned to sit for dinner when I heard John Chancellor's voice.

The news of Jennings passing coupled with Rather and Brokaw's recent retirements (Rather's retirement having been forced by largely by the right wing elements that have overrun the internet and cable news) and the continuing reliance on the internet and incomplete cable news by the American public probably means the network newscasts that have been a staple of television since the 1950s are probably dead. In this information on demand age it is just too old fashioned for most Americans to sit in front of the TV while sitting at the dinner table at 6:30. Perhaps most will not mourn the passing of this tradition, but I will: The forces of personality that dominated the network newscasts cannot be overstated nor can the incomplete nature of cable news shows be understated. Walter Cronkite helped shape public opinion and the nation trusted him because he was a fair, honest broker of all that was going on in the world. Today the cable news channels substitute the substance of a Cronkite with screaming and emotion of shows like Crossfire, Hannity and Colmes and Hardball.

Peter Jennings death probably marks the official end of an era. Not only is it bad for the networks but in my humble opinion it is bad for America as well.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good commentary- sad to see.

Mark said...

Now there is no one left to stop FAUX News from completely destroying journalism in this country.

It's a sad day. Jennings was a class act!

Jeb in 2008 said...

Jennings and Rather were arch liberals, though classy in their presentation. Hey, America and TV is changing. The force of personality of these three anchors (Jennings, Brokaw, Rather) are the only reasons the network news lasted this long. Let's face it- NBC has been using MSNBC, a network dominated by talking heads not hard news since 1996 to get its news out the door, ABC has hired a ex-Clinton polico, George Stephanopolous rather than a journalist to take over a show formally hosted by the legendary David Brinkley (who Richard Nixon was so scared of that he used the FBI to investigate him) and CBS is total non entity. Fox News uses a combination of journalists who write for ideological magazines and known partisans (including reputable liberals like Juan Williams and Elenor Clift for you conspiracy theorists) to deliver the news.

TV News is driven these days by emotion and political considerations. This Week with Stephanopolous used to be weekly sunday news program that dealt with a wide spectrum of issues. Now it is a political program, entirely with George S., and George Will grilling guests about gossip found on blog sites something that David Brinkley would have never dared done.

This trend started when Tim Russert took over the sagging Meet the Press program in 1991 and turned it into a weekly lynching of the guests that appeared. His style was so contrary to DC insiders that many refused to appear on his show. But as Russert's ratings soared and the othr Sunday program suffered he became the king of DC and every program has since followed his suit.

AFBackbreaker said...

burt aaronson is a no-brainer to replace jennings on ABC.

Mark said...

Jeb in 2008 said...
Jennings and Rather were arch liberals


Hey Tommy,

Way to take a shot at a guy after he is dead! It's not surprising that a conservative would have so little respect for another human being, but it is still sad.

Reagan was a horrible president who established weak policies which eventually led to the attacks of September 11th. But did Democrats or liberals attack Reagan after he died? No. We showed him respect, even though he probably didn't deserve it.

Compassionate conservative? Yeah my ass!

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.

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