Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Fear In The Newsroom"

Dan Rather just reported something almost accurately. In an speech in New York, he claimed that there is pressure, along with "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage created by the three cable news networks, which has created "fear in the newsroom".

Now the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" part means that news is reported as it happens with instant analysis, so there would indeed be pressures created by the realities of competition to get it right or else lose one's credibility. Hence a little bit of fear among reporters to get it right the first time. Dan knows a little about that. But he fails to understand that today's instant analysis takes us a few steps beyond the headline service which was the way of news before the advent of cable.

But cable, and especially Fox News created competition. Competition creates fear, which almost always enhances quality. And in that sense, news is indeed a business. People don't watch 3rd rate reports...another thing Dan would know quite a bit about given his network's ratings under his leadership. But Rather's dinosaur approach to news, specifically his erroneous beliefs that his ethos (which he greatly overestimated) gave him a bit more license when reporting the news and that his political biases (which he believed the rest of the nation agreed with) translated into objective truth, missed the quality mark.

Rather dislikes modern journalism because he cannot compete. He dislikes it because he can no longer get away with playing armchair politician when he should be reporting news. The dinosaurs didn't change. Neither did Dan Rather.

I wonder if the dinosaurs complained about the change in climate with all the false righteousness they could muster?


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