Wednesday, September 06, 2006

No News Not the Best News For Katie Couric's Debut

Good analysis from Tom Shales of The Washington Post. Seems like Katie's debut was basically the evening version of Today, and a far cry from legendary CBS newsmen like Murrow, Cronkite and Rather. Some excerpts from the review:

A title change would seem to be in order. Maybe "The CBS Evening No-News." Or "The CBS Evening Magazine." Or "30 Minutes."

...These little mini-stories were rammed together with no indication from Couric that she was changing topics. She needs work, and help, at reading off the prompting device and making it clear when the focus is about to shift.

...A segment called "Eye on Your Money" was simply a report by Anthony Mason that proved largely an apologia for big oil.

...Couric was standing again to introduce "something new," which turned out to be the oldest idea in television: Have some well-known or obscure blowhard pop up and do a rant into the camera. On the first show, it was the overexposed and tiresome bore Morgan Spurlock, who became famous by making a movie in which he ate at McDonald's every day for a month.

...Couric said that another stale face, that of Rush Limbaugh, would appear in the "free speech" segment Thursday. Oh goody! Set the TiVo now!

...Then the show reached its lowest point with an item that Couric had coyly promoted earlier in the day on the CBS Web site: a photograph of Suri Cruise, the previously hidden baby of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The portrait will be on the cover of Vanity Fair, out today -- so the segment was a shameless plug as well as celebrity trash, the kind of thing better saved for "Entertainment Tonight" and its ilk.

...In fact, if Edward R. Murrow were going to spin in his grave, he would have started long ago, when "infotainment" first appeared on the TV horizon and newscasters became pop personalities akin to movie stars and actors appearing in sitcoms. Murrow must be all spun out by now. It's been downhill for a long time.

My comment: With all of this bickering about the increased fluffiness of network news, there is a network newscast that the media basically ignores, and virtually every media market has access to it, cable or no cable. It's called The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and it does something that in this day and age may seem archaic: It's a show about real news. So sorry Katie, Charlie and Brian - I'll stick with Jim.


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