Monday, May 16, 2011

The Future of TV News

The last couple of weeks have seen a pair of contrasting retirement announcements in the TV news world. On the one hand, there was Katie Couric, a journalistic lightweight who tried to seem more serious with pre-prepared gotcha questions. On the other hand is Jim Lehrer whose quiet gravitas was expressed through extended civil discussions that you cannot see anywhere else on television.

The twin retirements provide an interesting backdrop for a discussion of television news. With cable news programs catering to particular demographic slices of the population and more and more folks getting their news on-line or from the radio, is there a place still for the traditional news programs? They don't provide the in-depth reporting they once did. They do not have the journalistic edge they once did. They are businesses (with the exception, of course, of the no longer named McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour) that have to compete with 24-hour news channels. People don't eat dinner every night at 6 in front of the tv like they used to. Have the times made the network news obsolete or is there a future? Will it have to change? If so, how?