TOGETHER WE WERE ONCE ALL TIED TO AN ANCHOR NAMED WALTER UNTIL HE RELEASED US WITH THE WORDS: ĎAND THATíS THE WAY IT ISí
Network news is reminiscent of the '50s classic sci-fi film "The Incredible Shrinking Man." Today it's The Incredible Shrinking audience for Network News. Sadly, network news departments are on the same dinosaur path as newspapers heading into a brave new fragmented, web-driven world where fact, opinion, entertainment and bias blur and each news operation shares a smaller and smaller piece of the economic pie as they morph into breezier, lighter-weight online formats. Walter Cronkite, we miss you.
Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds, as today serious news consumers can find information from an ever widening array of sources and viewpoints and it's all readily available 24/7 and as close by as our iPods and maybe eventually from chips in our brains, one for sports, politics, entertainment, liberal, conservative, etc. Consumers will become the new editors and programmers. If you think the Tea Party created divisions, consider what a fragmented broadcast spectrum will do as Americans will have a more difficult time talking to one another without shouting and an occasional head stomping.
Also among the dearly departed are many of the community-building local newspapers that brought us together, which also are become a thing of the past. I see more and more fragmentation of the spectrum, allowing entire networks devoted to certain content categories. At the rate we're going, there probably will be a network offering 24/7 news and information about men's ties, with some dapper gentleman signing off: And that's the way it ties.
Local TV is fast replacing the local newspaper. In news, the local angle has always ruled. Five hundred deaths far away are not equal to one nearby. It's human nature. We are localites. That's not to say local news won't expand and pamper its audience interactively on the Internet. But it's here to stay for a long while, only perhaps relying more and more on outside sources for content, on PR firms like TransMedia Group.