Once upon a time we had newsmen such as Walter Cronkite – once known as ‘the most trusted man in America’ – whose style brought professionalism and dignity to the small screen. Today we have news anchors who try to be pithy but fail (more noticable in local news; IME especially with Kent Shocknek), and news programmes that bring us sensationalism instead of professionalism and human interest (‘News Lite’) instead of hard information. What’s more important? The Downing Street memos, or the Michael Jackson trial?
I was watching From The Earth To The Moon yesterday, and there is a subplot that shows the new reporter usurping the power of the established reporter. He has no regard for privacy, he has no regard for propriety, and his stories are shallow. But the network likes him. They call him a genius. They think his approach is ‘fresh’. NASA eventually accepts the new guy, since they can’t afford to alienate a network.
I remember reading something by Harlan Ellison, either in an introduction to a story or in one of his Glass Teat commentaries, where he railed against a TV news reporter shoving a microphone into the face of a woman who had just lost her husband and asking, ‘How do you feel?’ IIRC, this was written in the early-'70s – contemporary with the bit in FTETHM.
Certainly there were sensational stories early on. The trial of Fatty Arbuckle was ‘The Trial Of The Century’. So was the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping trial. But it seems to me that the real abandonment of decorum started – or at least accellerated – in the early-1970s, and ‘News Lite’ was firmly entrenched by the late-1970s or early-1980s.
What do you think?