I remember the good old days in TV news. Once upon a time you could turn on CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews and actually watch them talk about news and politics. Putting aside the notion that Fox news is biased to one side of the political spectrum you could turn them on and hear them talk about the side they are biased for. Not any more though....
Who really believes for one second that the CNN of today would run 24/7 the tearing down of the Berlin Wall? Or Tanks running over protesters in China? Or the fall of the Soviet Union?
The state of the News has become something for serious concern. There was a time when it did not bother me that the major networks like NBC, CBS and ABC were cutting back on news. That's what 24 hour a day cable news was for after all. The idea was to turn on the cable news and get up to speed with the big issues of the day. That is not what's happening these days..
I like to measure things using the NY Times, the Washington Post and to keep the republicans happy the Washington Times. Use these print journalistic resources and compare the stories on paper to what you can watch on TV news. Do you know what you will find? Ten years ago you could take stories that made page one on the NY times and then watch similar broadcast pieces on TV news. No longer though. Today for example the paper may write about the elections in Iran, or civil unrest in different parts of the world or the splitting up of the 9th circuit federal court into 3 pieces. Then turn on Cable news and watch, watch some more, wait for the headlines....Did you see any pieces on the stuff that print journalism deems important? No you did not. What did you see? A story on Tom Cruise perhaps? Maybe a piece about where Michael Jackson will travel to? Or Bill Clinton having another affair? Or how much money Batman made over the weekend at the boxoffice?
There has been much talked and written about the "dumbing down" of our culture. The suits will tell you they report tabloid because that's what people want to see, but they are missing the big picture. Journalism has a responsibility to the people to report issues that matter. People can watch entertainment tonight for news about movies and starts. Our celebrity obsessed culture is taking us to the point where mass killings in Sudan is less important then Tom Cruise getting married. Something is very wrong with that.
On Saturday June 25th 2005 Capital Gang on CNN will beam into households for the last time. In its 17 year run you could always count on it to be a show that's both informative and interesting. What is worrying is that there is no replacements to shows like this. As they leave us they are being replaced by more tabloid reporting.
The state of TV news is a matter of grave concern to this country. When we as a people and the media that serves us would rather know how Michael Jackson is dressed then to learn about the Patriot Act it makes me worry for our future as a country....