From Variety comes this report that "the five broadcast nets' average live median age (in other words, not including delayed DVR viewing) was 50 last season." I'd love to know how much of that is due to a shift to Internet browsing, including video of course, and how much of it is a result of the networks driving us away with a barrage of painfully mislabeled "talent" contests mixed with out-of-control commercial clutter.
In the print-only "Darts and Laurels" feature of Columbia Journalism Review for March/April, there's a "laurel to Charlie Gibson and ABC for hosting the best debates of the nominating season -- so far." Well, last night, only hours after I posted the complaint "Journalism? Public service? The networks aren't even trying," it seems Gibson and company threw it all away.
George Bernard Shaw died too early to enjoy the fruits of 24-hour TV news channels, but his famous condemnation of newspaper journalism would apply: "Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation." Tonight's election coverage is sure to provide plenty of fresh examples.
Cory Bergman over at LostRemote points to Action 25 News, a cable TV site for Macon, Ga., that NBC stations all over the country are reporting is a fake set up by Internet scammers selling DVD "training" programs. Apparently the website the website was created to lend credibility by having a fake TV consumer reporter claim you can make $84,000 a year by working at home.
After Charlie Gibson's excellent handling of the New Hampshire primary debates Saturday night my hopes for television journalism were temporarily raised, but watching the coverage over the last two days has restored my cynicism. The cable networks may have temporarily pushed aside the likes of O'Reilly and Dobbs, but I still feel like I'm watching coverage of Britney Spears or Anna Nicole.
As newspapers fade from their historical role in covering world events, we're left with an unhealthy dependency on the newsgathering and news judgment of television networks. Writing for MIT's Technology Review, former NBC reporter John Hockenberry shreds any notion we might have that the networks are up to the task.
A particularly telling vignette: