By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Media Nation meets Black Rock

I’ve written a piece for the Public Eye section of CBSNews.com on how to fix the network evening newscasts at CBS, NBC and ABC. An excerpt:

The dilemma facing the Big Three became apparent only during the commercial breaks. Each time [anchor Bob] Schieffer disappeared from my screen, he was replaced with a parade of advertisements promising relief from one malady after another: dry eyes, blood clots, arthritis, calcium deficiency, diabetes, insomnia, toenail fungus, bad feet and high cholesterol. There was a message on where to find government information about Medicare. There was an image-building ad from a drug company. As someone who is in the very middle of middle age, I was appalled to think that I had this to look forward to in my declining years. And, of course, I realized that here was the evidence of what is really wrong with the nightly newscasts: they’re on at 6:30 p.m., a time when only the elderly can watch them. Everyone else is either commuting, eating dinner or helping the kids with their homework. That, more than anything, explains why the combined network-newscast audience has declined from about 50 million to fewer than 30 million over the past couple of decades. People work longer hours and lead more hectic lives than they did 20 years ago. The networks haven’t kept pace.

You may read the whole thing by clicking here.


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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for your thoughtful article about the time slots for the evening news. I would also like to see the network news slots changed to a later time. However, the reasons that I do not watch the evening news is not because of the time slot it is because it is not news it is entertainment.We are not informed about the news that affects our daily lives. How many missing white women stories can we take?I want to hear the truth about the Iraq war not the Bush Administrations lines. I do not need a cheerleader, like Tom Brokaw was during the lead up to the war. How can I believe Tom Brokaw when his pay check is coming from the largest defense contractor in America? I always wondered while listening to Tom if he had a financial interest in the war. How could I believe him when he was a walking conflict of interest?How many times is Andrea Mitchell going to spew the White House line that Joe Wilson lied about who sent him to Africa? And no one challenges her!!Look at what Judy Miller did to journalism. Who does she work for the NYTimes or the Bush Administration? She also is someone who had a deep interest in discrediting Joe Wilson because it would prove her reporting to be soooo wrong. It is heartbreaking to read/see and hear how the media is minimizing this treasonous act.The evening news either completely ignores important stories or spews out the Republican talking points. There is no reporting and certainly nothing indepth.The network news never mentioned anything about the new communications law signed by then President Clinton and look at the effects that has had on the viewers. Only one network barely mentioned anything about it.How about campaign finance reform. How many network lobbyists hit DC to kill the bill? It is not about the best interest of the viewer it is about their bottom line. News has become a business not news. This goes for newspapers and yes NPR. I could no longer listen to Moira Liason or Cokie Roberts spew their smarmy comments about the Clintons. And of course Liason ends up on Fox!What can be done so that we can become better informed citizens? We need to be informed about what affects our daily lives and what is going on internationally. We get neither.It is very frustrating because I do not see a solution to turn around the downfall of journalism in the United States.I must mention that I am grateful for blogs. It is where I now get most of my information but again I must choose carefully. And of course there is always Jon Stewart to make me feel not so sad about the sad state of journalism.I do not mean to insult you or your profession I am a frustrated citizens who wants to be informed.We need solutions and new time slots is one but not the only one!

  2. Steve

    I misread the title as “Media Nation meets Black Rook“, so I was expecting a chess column.But I can’t agere with you more – I haven’t seen an evening newscast in years. I’m never home for them.

  3. John Galt

    The piece is up to your usual standards. However, network news will continue to degenerate until the corporations come to understand that there is no way to make their news programs profit centers without sacrificing by degrees probity and truth.I’m of a belief that news could become a magnet for the nets if they were bold enough to commit to a standard of excellence.

  4. Anonymous

    Only two problems with this idea:(1) Networks (and their affiliates) make far more money with entertainment programming than they could ever hope to with news in prime time.(2) Time-challenged people (i.e. non-geriatrics) are increasingly getting their multimedia news on-demand from the Internet and bypassing TV altogether. That shift in behavior is unlikely to be reversed by the scheduling decisions of network executives.What *will* likely happen is that one or more of the Big 3 networks will get out of the business of supplying a ready-made longform newscast and merely supply a feed of news cuts for their affilates to slot into their local news broadcasts as they see fit.

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