Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Showbots at Dawn

Jeff on PostThough it sucks the breath from my lungs to verbalize it, I figure I got twenty years or so left in this business. But I’m beginning to think the business may not have twenty years left in it. Sure, they’ll always be some form of corporate media; most folk are too lazy to go get it for themselves, no how many blithering Twitters and hopped-up blogs claim otherwise. But TV News as we know it today? It won’t survive the next two decades. Hell, it might not be recognizable twenty four months from now. Don’t believe me? Pick up on Line 4. It’s Katie Couric. She’s got fantastic gams, a 16 million dollar paycheck and damn few viewers to show for it. My bride was right: she should have stuck to the morning shift where at least she could hang out with the artist formerly known as Al Roker.

Now word comes down that her employer CBS - the house that Edward R. Murrow built - is collapsing onto itself. In the past couple of weeks, they lopped off top talent from both sides of the screen in a n affiliate blood-letting heretofore unseen in the Fourth Estate. Now words comes down that the empire once known as the Tiffany Network is considering farming out some of its newsgathering operation to Chicken Noodle News. It may sound like so much inside baseball to those outside the biz, but just know what was deemed unthinkable just a year ago is quickly coming to pass. So how will that affect your not so humble lenslinger? I’m glad you didn’t ask…

‘Cause I don’t really know. Despite what the pungent hippies at Guilford College scream when I roll up on campus in a live truck draped in F-words, local affiliates and their networks are vastly different entities. Yeah, I work for a FOX station, but I’ve yet to see Bill O Reilly cruise through my newsroom. If he did, I’d pick up that loofah that he dropped and maybe ask for a snapshot- for he and I are not long fro this world. TV News, for all its gloss and foibles, is about to morph into a new form of communication. Whether it will rid itself of all that vaudeville or simply find a new platform to pedal its shtick is still unknown. The only thing you can be sure of is the newscast of tomorrow wont look like Today, or World News Tonight or any of that pablum that passes for modern broadcasting.

I just wish I was more upset. Don’t get me wrong; I hate it for all those cross-town colleagues who’ve gotten the axe and my crusty photog heart goes out for all those who are about to. But dammit, it’s long overdue. We in TV have chortled, hyped and adored ourselves into oblivion. What used to pass for the voice of God now sounds like so much sorority house blather. Bloated and gloating, there’s not been an industry so ripe for revolution since Kodak dismissed digital cameras as just some passing fad. Just what new form TV News will take isn’t even privy to those above my pay grade (which makes up just about everyone). But believe me when I tell you this: For the first time EVER, it is safer to be a lowly photog who likes to multitask than a toothy news bunny who only knows how to twinkle on cue…

Until the robots arrive, anyway.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

Well, we'll all be going down together, TV and print.

I think there's something good coming, but I suspect there's going to be a lot of trauma between here and there. The current tower has to fall before the new thing gets built.

Chuck said...

You are right about journalists falling in love with themselves. In the meantime, the whole world is changing around them. It's also odd how everyone seems to blindly follow leadership and subscribes to the "do as you are told" mentality. No one thinks for themselves. More importantly, no one is keeping with technology and what's on the horizon. Citizen journalism is the next emerging trend and trust me, it is far more raw, innovative, compelling and accurate. It's going to put more trained reporters in the unemployment line.