The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah McBride wrote an article in today’s edition addressing the increasing number of network news “stars” leaving television to become a part of National Public Radio. In an environment where ratings for most news programs are declining, and newspapers across the country are reducing staffs amid shrinking circulations, NPR’s audience is continuing to grow. As a result, as reported previously by NewsBusters, the largely government sponsored radio station has been attracting folks like former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite and former ABC “Nightline” host, Ted Koppel. Potentially the most fascinating aspect of this article is what it said about the current state of television media:
“Network news is increasingly generating prospects for NPR in part because some broadcast journalists think the networks are veering away from serious, in-depth reports. Many television journalists say they are fed up with the move toward consumer-friendly news-you-can-use and away from weightier subjects like foreign affairs and government. And many also see news of any sort as an increasingly low priority for their employers. For example, ‘Nightline’ came close to losing its perch in a humiliating 2002 episode when ABC brass unsuccessfully tried to lure in David Letterman's nightly comedy show to replace it.”
Koppel agreed: “‘All too many media outlets right now think the correct way to lead is to take a poll, or study the demographics, and see what it is that the people who are most attractive to the advertisers would hope to see on television.’"
So did former ABC News correspondent Michel Martin:
“‘When I started at ABC News, it was a large division of a communications company, only radio and television stations,’ says Ms. Martin, recalling the days before Walt Disney Co. bought the company. ‘Now, it's a small division of an entertainment company, and that creates different pressures.’"
Maybe, if everybody left the networks to join NPR, there'll eventually be no network news. Hmmm.