Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good Night, and Good Luck

In the movie “Good Night, and Good Luck” George Clooney writes and directs a film that perfectly captures CBS anchor Edward R. Murrow’s clashes with the leader of the communist witch hunt Senator Joseph McCarthy. The film is amazing and I recommend everyone should go see it. Since I am a newsman myself I felt especially touched. There is one line towards the end of the film where Murrow is defending his station airing the attacks on McCarthy. He says something along the lines of “a station is gauged by the strength of its news.”
This is something that seems to make so much sense in the 1950’s but not so much today. Look at the state of the network news organizations CBS in particular. I have spoken at length about ‘Rathergate’ and the other scandals that have put the reputation of CBS into question. Yet does anyone care? That is a question I am not sure I want answered. How do people define the stations they watch? Most people don’t get their news from networks anymore. If they want news they go to one of the 24 news networks. Gone are the voices that brought news to a generation. They are lost – their powerful performances lost to a generation. Even the anchor so many turned to just a few years ago during 9-11 Peter Jennings, has been lost to lung cancer. It seem appropriate since “Good Night, and Good Luck,” is shot in black white and smoke pours from every character wrapping the film in a haze that seems to keep it locked in the past and ended up taking one of the greatest of a generation.
How do we define the channels of today? We have gone from three to three hundred. When you think CBS do you think ‘Evening News’ ’60 Minutes’ or do you think ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ ‘CSI’ and ‘Survivor?’
I'll ask a simpler question, which is easier for you to name: three members of a nightly news team, (Andy Rooney doesn't count), or three members from a prime time broadcast? Nightly news may not be what it once was, but neither is the audience. I fear soon when it becomes unprofitable to keep a news team together, and when enough Americans finally have switched the dial, once and for all the source of news for millions of Americans will finally be silenced.


Anonymous Jeri said...

You raise a very good point. Personally, I get my news from either BBC when I can, one of the 24 hour news networks, or online. I do remember watching 60 minutes when I was younger with my grandmother. it was exciting. We watched it as much for the news anchor (whos names- there were 4 of them I believe- I forget) as for the news itself. Sadly, the news has become a mishmash of namless faces, all of whom look alike and quite frankly wear way too much makeup (the women anyway) It's like all the news anchors come out of the same cookie cutter mold, one in which having an opinion and personality are not included. I hope it changes and goes back to the "good ole days" but with the advent of modern technology, and the mtv generation needing everything speedy (Id love to know what you think about that stupid ticker on cnn and msnbc) it doesn't seem that likely.

November 29, 2005 8:40 PM  
Blogger Trevor said...

I love the BBC it shows us Americans how good Public News and Television can be if properly funded. The 24 hour stations are a great asset to bring you the most up to date information with a complex network of affliates which unites this country in such a way you can watch car chases live from anywhere in the world. The Ticker is the bastard child of media. I worked for one of the 24 hour networks and was incharge of the ticker. It's good in the sence that it provides headlines, like going to a newsstand and reading whats on the front page of 15 different papers. Its bad because you could have something like "Nick and Jessica have no prenup" running under a breaking news story like the passenger shot in Miami on Dec. 7th.

December 08, 2005 7:47 PM  

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