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September 12, 2007



Press Release: "Former ABC Nightline anchor Ted Koppel on Wednesday chastised network executives for attempting to manipulate its newscasts to attract younger viewers in the same way that it does with its other programs. 'In entertainment programming,' he said, 'there is absolutely nothing wrong with networks catering to not just the needs but the desires of their audiences, but when it comes to news coverage, I think we have an additional responsibility and that is to tell people what they need to know and what they ought to know. ... I think news divisions have a responsibility to do more than just amuse the public; we have a responsibility to tell people where their interests lie.'

Possibly the precise tipping point for the decline of the "news" was pinpointed.

In the 1980's, one major television network exec. announced that his news department must now become profitable. It would no longer be acceptable for the news division to lose money.

Slowly, but surely, the network began trying different ways to attract viewers to their news broadcasts. (In case it's not immediately obvious, the premise there is, with more viewers come higher "ratings". With higher ratings, the network can charge more for advertising space. Thus, greater profits.)

As that news department attracted viewers and became more profitable, so the others eventually followed.

Anyone who grew up in the 50's, 60's or 70's can attest that news coverage today is nothing like it used to be. It's more like tabloids than respected, credible journalism.

If you're old enough, you can see how this has now permeated nearly every news agency there is. Spin is (seemingly) the only driving force. I've even seen instances where "reporters" are proud of their ability to take a mundane story and twist it into something salacious and saleable. News departments rarely publish corrections, despite what appears to be a historical high in the number of errors of fact in the news these days.

I've long-since given up on mainstream media as an information source. (I worked in advertising for many years.) I've seen too many times where what is reported is patently false. ...Not just a bit off or "not quite accurate" but an absolute lie. That is repugnant to me, and I lose all respect for those who knowingly do so.

I supppose that anything which helps reduce the costs of bringing news stories to the public could help make a news division more profitable, and thus reduce the need for tabloid tactics.

The question for the public is, if we go back to legitimate journalism, will they actually choose fact and substance over sound bites and entertainment?

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