America: Hooked on Newsphonics

I am a news junkie. It’s a mandatory trait for anyone in my profession. That said, I have stopped watching the 5pm, 10pm and 11pm “news.” With all respects to Murrow and his generation, broadcast news should have its journalistic credentials yanked. It no longer meets the criteria of serious journalism (with few exceptions).

Think I’m nuts? Take a look at this quote from a column Gail Shister just posted over at Philly.com:

“On a 30-minute evening newscast, however, what’s required is the ability to read the TelePrompTer and not display too much emotion.”

Want to know who she’s talking about? Katie Couric. Considered by too many people across America to be one of our top journalists. What’s the criteria for being a reporter with a $15 million salary? To ask tough, probing questions? Nope. The criteria America holds up for its top journalists is the simple ability to read and act. I know many people whose only concept of what’s happening in the world comes from 20-second segments of news read off a teleprompter.

Despite the fact that most people think of what I do as spin and anti-media, I hold journalists as having one of the most critical roles in a free, working society. They are the first and last stop in the checks-and-balances needed to keep people honest. They — again, minus a few exceptions — operate with a level of integrity that most of us would be challenged to equal.

Reading words from a screen while worrying about your Q score is not reporting, it’s acting.

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