“And that’s the way it is.”

I was watching the Today Show while eating breakfast this morning when I pondered why is media the way it is? Where have all the reporters gone? (Apologies to Pete Seeger.)

Whmusic-notes-855908ere have all the newsmen gone, long time passing. Where have all the newsmen gone, long time ago. Where have all the newsmen gone, gone for celebrity every one. When will we ever learn? When we ever learn?

“News” flash: Megyn Kelly is moving to NBC!

Matt Lauer makes a lot of money. NBC just signed him up for 2 more years at $20 million a year. Lots of twos. He’s been there 20 years. He has a 2 year contract and he will make $20,000,000 a year. Maybe he should buy a lottery ticket with twos across the board (as if he needs more!) What would Walter Cronkite think? (Oops! Wrong network!)

fortune.com/…/nbc-today-matt-lauer-contract

For a few years, I’ve noticed that television anchors are not reporters but celebrities. We get our “news” from celebrities. Kim Kardashian could step in for many of the so-called reporters! (Wait, is that true? Is she going to host the Morning Show?) False…for now.

Why is hearing about an anchor’s pregnancy relevant to the world? Why is watching a celebrity perform some feat more important than the orphans being whisked out of Syria, in fear of their lives? Why aren’t problems like poverty being addressed or reporting on hunger in our own country? We seem to want to watch trivial things instead of being confronted by real news stories that are harsh realities.

Walter Cronkite was at CBS for 19 years. As a reporter and then anchor, he covered WWII, the Nuremberg trials, Vietnam, the assassination of JFK, then MLK’s assassination. He reported on Watergate and the Iran Hostage Crisis. He covered the news! We didn’t know when or if his wife was pregnant or what college his kids went to. He never told us what he had for breakfast that morning. He said, Our job is only to hold up the mirror – to tell and show the public what has happened.” 

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I wonder what he’d think of today’s world. I’m sure he’d be shocked by all the false “news” that has been bandied about this past year. He strove for objectivity in reporting. He said, Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine. Nowadays we are seeing more opinion being “reported” as “news” than truly objective journalism. There are someexceptions. I think photojournalism is still relatively forthcoming. Hard to lie when you take a picture of burned out houses or people running from a gunman or storms hitting a part of the country. I don’t think photo manipulation has entered the field. A cynic might think it’s only a matter of time, but I know some very reputable photojournalists (i.e. my DIL) who would never stoop that low.

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Walter Cronkite had his faults. Some colleagues thought he was too proud or dictatorial, but we could trust him. The American people believed him when he reported something. I wonder what he’d say about this past year. Maybe something he said years ago:

“We are not educated well enough to perform the necessary act of intelligently selecting our leaders.”

Anymore, news is all about the ratings. How much money can a network make from advertising? The higher the rating, the more advertising income. The higher the ratings the higher the $$$ rewards to the anchors and reporters.

The news media is important for our democracy. The freedom of the press is usually the first freedom to go when a country is falling. But we need a strong, hard-hitting press that doesn’t cave to celebrity and the mundane.

“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.”

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2 thoughts on ““And that’s the way it is.”

  1. Today’s news reporters however, unlike Cronkite, were educated in a totally different environment and thus their reporting reflects this. From their schools to their news rooms one is taught to question everything and that their personal opinion matters. Gone are the days of “who, what, when and where” to continuously be replaced with an opinionated ‘why’.
    Thanks for a great posting.

    • Thanks, Pete. I find it disturbing that journalism schools focus on “why” instead of the other “W’s.” Seems to me that the reader should determine the “why” based on the who-what-when-how. The public is then spoon fed what the editor and reporter think is the “why.” You’re right. It’s opinion.

      What I really object to is how reporters are celebrities. Back in the dark ages when I was in college, we learned that we should be reporters, not participants in the news. The classic example was a story about Khrushchev’s visit to an Iowa farm where the reporters mobbed the fields, causing damage to the farm. The farmer was very angry (rightly so) and it became the news. It wasn’t Khrushchev that was the focus of the story, but the reporters and the damage that they caused. Our professors warned us to be cognizant of not intruding into the story. Of course, Woodward and Bernstein may have helped alter that “rule” with the Watergate coverage. At the time, they weren’t part of the story, but once the book was written and the movie was made (All the President’s Men) they became celebrities.

      Now, the morning news especially is all about celebrity. Which anchor is pregnant, whose son is going to Harvard, etc. “Where in the World is Matt Lauer”…It’s more entertainment than news. The evening newscasts aren’t as bad, but I figure it’s only a matter of time. The “dumbing down of America.”

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