deadlines amuse me

exploring how the world works and why it works that way …

The end of the world is here, Part II

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There, parked on the June cover of Vanity Fair, is the newsman of the Rave New World, Anderson Cooper. The text associated with his name reads: “A heartbreaking memoir … The shock of his brother’s suicide; the horror of Katrina.”

The subhead on the story says: “Star newsman Anderson Cooper is defined less by his experience than by an old-fashioned Hollywood marketing campaign.” [emphasis added] That’s not news to people these days. He’s more apt to be praised because of his empathetic style rather than his journalistic substance.

But Neal Gabler’s fine piece is more about what Cooper represents than about Cooper himself. As Gabler says, “CNN obviously has invested a great deal in its new wonder boy, and the network has been marketing him aggressively, though no more so than CBS is marketing its new anchor, Katie Couric. In doing so, however, CNN is not just boosting an anchor. It is changing the very paradigm of television news.”

Gabler traces the recent evolution of the anchor position in TV news alongside the seminal events in Anderson’s recent rise to CNN’s prime-time 10 p.m. slot. He recounts how Cooper has reported “with feeling but without gravitas.” Then he relates that to how CNN is dealing with its viewership issues:

… the network has obviously concluded, along with everyone else, that the function of the news has changed and so must the presentation. The news is no longer regarded as a trust. It is just another competitor for viewers’ time, another distraction in a world of entertainment, though what it is distracting the audience from is essentially itself. No one but old people watch the news today; the median age of the network news broadcasts on ABC and NBC is just under 60 and on CBS just over 60, and the cable network audiences aren’t any different. The young people that advertisers covet apparently feel they have better things to do than watch news, which means, in effect, that the news providers are in the awkward position of finding a way to attract people who really don’t want their product. [emphasis added]

It’s a fine piece I spotted on Romenesko, well worth reading.


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 23, 2006 at 9:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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