American broadcast and cable news operations don’t even bother anymore, not even in the traditional 6:30 pm network news slot, once the ‘big boy’. The final word. The program elevated by Walter Cronkite (CBS) and Chet Huntley and David Brinkley (
ABC NBC – thanks Don) and someone on ABC (who was it before Birnkley moved over?).
Those shows now run perhaps 19 or 22 minutes, of which they devote a precious few to reminding us who they are and how great they are and thank each other for doing such a great job while letting us know, breathlessly, that every interview is ‘exclusive’. I even heard Brian Williams recently refer to their reporter in Libya as ‘the only network broadcast reporter in the square right now”. which meant that maybe ABC and CBS were taking a bathroom break. But no matter, heady stuff anyway – for them.
After all the chest thumping, they spend perhaps 6 or 7 minutes on the ‘news’ of the day (which this week includes updates on the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor.) And finally, there is a ‘report’ on some new weapon or medical breakthrough or cute animal – most of these appear to be video press releases.
The cables do a little real news, but mostly they opt for that cheap-to-produce stuff featuring poorly informed – but insistent – gasbags, opining on the political matters of the day.
Today, that is what passes for the news on American television. (There are exceptions of course – PBS News Hour, Fareed Zacharia on CNN and – only occasionally anymore – 60 Minutes. I’ll add my own local news – they often do a very decent job.)
And then there’s the BBC. The venerable British Broadcasting Company is serious about reporting and committed to informing their viewers, listeners and readers. Look at this from their website. Now that’s committment – one click brings the world to the world.