Media and an Era of Lost Professionalism

A caveat to this article is merely an acknowledgement I am not a journalist. Quite frankly, I am probably more of a “hack” as a writer, rather than one who wears past credentialed accomplishments on their sleeve. However, I am a keen observer of my surroundings; the rise and fall of tides (metaphorically), our political climate and the global warming of the media which has melted away their professionalism and credibility. No longer revered are reporters, news anchors or basically any member of the 21st century media and to me it is the result of a myriad of problems encompassing their respective employers.

 

While growing up and into my adulthood I was fortunate enough to have observed the uncontestable, hard hitting and irrefutable likes of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Cameron Swayze, Edward R. Murrow, John Charles Daly, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, John Chancellor, Roger Mudd, Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. The journalists, reporters and news anchors of yore communicated information in an intelligent, reliable, trustworthy and non-gossipy manner. There was continuity in the separation of fact from fiction and the public was unaware of the communicators’ political affiliations or personal feeling regarding the topics at hand. These professionals were the “Switzerland” of reporting events and current affairs.

 

CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, long hailed as the “most trusted man in America,” made a commentary, on air, after a 1968 visit to Vietnam in which he stated, in part, “But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” History shows after Mr. Cronkite’s editorial, President Lyndon Johnson declared, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Subsequently, a new form of journalism was born.

 

Ted Turner also changed the scenery of news when he built his new stadium to launch CNN. We were spellbound with the idea of exposing us to chronicled, worldwide reports 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Competing networks were running in the backfield, trying to catch the pop fly ball Ted had hit. The bases were soon loaded with ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, FOX and local cable affiliates. The crowd was and is growing restless during the extra innings of information overload. All the teams involved seem to be using the same playbook on the pitches thrown. Managers and owners are throwing the same fast balls of headline bleeps, which ultimately miss the strike zone more often than not. The jerseys worn may be different, but the final score is a tie and the fans leave the park wondering why they even bothered to go in the first place. Another disappointing season comes to an end.

 

It is gut wrenching torment for news hounds like myself to be inundated with stories of Lindsay Lohan, the breakup of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Miss Piggy and Kermit, the hedonistic cast of Jersey Shore or Desperate Housewives, who was voted off Dancing with the Stars, the Kardashians, celebrity weddings and so on and so forth. In what appears to be a concerted effort, the networks regurgitate the same nauseating, nonsensical dribble, in a half  hearted effort to fill their respective time slots with shallow, cheap reporting.

 

News Corp. owns Fox and 27 other television stations in the United States, along with cable and satellite television stations all over the world. Space prevents me from listing all of News Corp. holdings, but when it comes to publishing they own more than 150 newspapers, numerous magazines and even a publishing company. CBS has 30 television stations and their cable interests are vast, spanning from Showtime to the Movie Channel. Then add Simon and Schuster Publishing and 130 radio stations and you begin to see how full their portfolio is. Walt Disney takes the helm as captain of ABC, ABC News, the ESPN franchise, the History Channel, the Lifetime Network, to name a few and in excess of  226 affiliated television stations reaching nearly 99% of all U.S. households. They also own Citadel Broadcasting that operates 227 radio stations in the United States. In addition to their rich holdings are several magazine and book companies. Although General Electric still has an ownership of 49 % share holding in NBC –Universal, Comcast is now the majority stockholder. There are 26 television stations and 46 affiliate stations they operate.

 

Being armed and informed with the above information draws me to one conclusion; Real, down to earth, core investigative reporting has been pushed aside in order to promote the other interests of the networks, thereby plugging stories that bring in better stock returns to their shareholders. If I am wrong, please let me know where I erred.

 

In the meantime, I will continue my quest for truth in reporting, without a hidden agenda. I watch at least 5 different TV news networks, listen to numerous radio pundits and read several newspapers on a weekly basis, not to mention all of the email alerts I receive. I want to be informed and learn something new on a daily basis and seriously; it doesn’t come from “WINNING” with highlights of Charlie Sheen,

 

Written By: Dennis L. Page

 

 

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