Published April 15, 2010
Ted Koppel was on the BBC discussing a survey that finds 60 percent of news executives think journalism is screwed. Here's a surprise: He, and his hair, agree.
I bet he thinks we now feel entitled not to have the news that we need, but the news that we want.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED KOPPEL, JOURNALIST: We now feel entitled not to have the news that we need, but the news that we want. We want to listen to news that comes from those who already sympathize with our particular point of view. We don't want the facts anymore.
KATTY KAY, BBC: Who's at fault though, the consumer or the producer of the news?
KOPPEL: Well, I think it's the, it's the producer who's at fault, who so desperately needs the consumer, because, in what I like to consider the good old days, when you only had ABC, NBC and CBS, there was competition. But, the competition still permitted us to do what was in the public interest.
These days, all the networks have to fight with the dozens of cable outlets that are out there, the Internet that is out there. They're all competing for the almighty dollar and the way to get there is to head down to the lowest common denominator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So a venerable old fogey harkens back to the good old days when no one had cell phones or breast implants and all the news came from three boxes — NBC, CBS and ABC — or more to the point: him. No wonder he's grumpy.
Now I'm old, so I remember those good old days. They sucked: We had three networks, all pumping out the same crap, nonstop. Was it all factual, like Ted remembers? I don't know, but since there was no choice it didn't matter.
All I remember, as a teen loaded on cough syrup, was the sameness of everything: All rotten about America, driven by a media who concluded that Vietnam and Watergate made us the bad guys and the media were the good guys.
So in '76, if you turned on the set, here's what you got:
• Homelessness, homelessness, homelessness: At one point you couldn't tell the difference between the news and a Dead show
• The evils of nuclear power: Ted forgets that much of the "facts" were presented by folks who cried during "Silkwood"
• Corporations are bad: This common theme often overlooked the fact that corporations are made of people and they pay all the taxes. But they also made guns, cigarettes and guns that look like cigarettes — so they're evil
• And of course, Gerald Ford falling
Sadly, according to Ted, the real evil now is competition. Because of Fox News, you'll now find other stories the old media thought stupid. I think this is good news, which is something Ted probably wishes I wouldn't report.
And if you disagree with me, you probably hate unicorns.