CBS just named Scott Pelley to take over the CBS Evening News. He has always struck me as a straigh-forward bread-and-butter journalist. He is neither a ‘personality’ nor a ‘celebrity’ like Couric. So I hope he does a good job, but the facts on the ground make it unlikely that even a better anchor could make much difference, because . . .
Network news has been in decline for 20 years; except for the ‘at the scene’ stuff, they increasingly do ‘news by press release’. And they fill the rest of the time with touchy-feely stuff which we once called ‘filler’ in the newspaper business – as if there weren’t sufficient news on the planet to fill those terrifying 22 minutes of emptiness.
When the networks decided to end the tradition of allowing news divisions to be ‘loss leaders’ in the late 80’s, 90’s our new masters of the universe decided news had to generate profit, things started downhill. Then came cable and the internet.
We lost something important when our news television sources fragmented and ideology crept into the news itself, not just the opinion pages of newspapers and the magazines with specific political bents, like The Nation or National Review.
Someday Charles Osgood – another one of the pros – will retire from CBS Sunday Morning, I hope CBS continues with good choices; Harry Smith would be good – he’s another modest professional guy who never makes it ‘all about him’.