Monday, July 20, 2009

News - the way it used to be

Following today’s noon news on TV, which was perhaps a minute or two shorter than usual, and which I had turned on while preparing lunch, there was a “news interview” by one of the station’s on-air talents of a local car dealership owner. Unless one paid close attention or knew “how these things work”, it was indistinguishable from the “news” that had preceded it – a murder, a boating accident, the imminent minimum wage increase, the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing – but the interview actually was a disguised advertisement. The car dealership owner advertises heavily on TV, in spots that are readily recognized as ads, and I guess he was “owed one” . . . .

Then I sat down with my lunch, opened this morning’s paper (The Financial Times) and read Walter Cronkite’s obituary.

Wow! Just as the differences between planet earth and the moon are amazing, without comparables, so is the difference between the news of 40 years ago and today’s news.

My first memory of Walter Cronkite’s broadcast genius was the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, then the 1969 lunar landing and all throughout, his coverage of the Vietnam war – as horrendously ill-considered then as the Iraq war of more recent vintage.

Television newscasts certainly have changed in the past half-century, and not for the better.

And that’s the way it is, July 20, 2009.

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