Friday, March 24, 2006

The Evening News...Brought to You by Pepsi

Today, Matt Drudge links to recent commentary by legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite on the state of nightly newscasts today.
Walter Cronkite has castigated producers of the network nightly newscasts for including stories about "your health and mine and your backyard and mine and all that kind of thing" at the expense of more substantive reports. "It doesn't belong in the evening news," Cronkite said during an interview...

"We're the most important nation in the world ... and there are these other very important stories in a very complicated world that we need to cover. We can't do that in 15 or 16 minutes." Apparently suggesting that the television networks ought to dispense with commercials during their nightly newscasts, Cronkite remarked, "The networks should be giving us the full half hour... It's ridiculous to have as little time as we have."
Cronkite, who knows a thing or two about real news coverage, is spot-on in identifying the problem with today's evening news. The networks, seeing a shrinking and again audience, run a news program with only 3 or 4 stories a night, interspersed between two long commercial breaks and a couple of "fluff" pieces. Despite the power of the medium, there's no doubt that people are better served by the more in-depth coverage of newspapers and the Internet.

David Strathairn as Edward Murrow in Good Night, and Good LuckWhich really is a shame, considering that TV has the power to get the news across better than either of the aforementioned. I wonder why the evening news programs don't consider getting a corporate sponsor. Edward Murrow's See it Now program, portrayed in Good Night, and Good Luck, was sponsored by Alcoa. Today, as long as the corporate sponsor agreed to have no say in the content of the telecast, I think it would work. Take a cue from sports half-time shows and call it "ABC World News Tonight by IBM", have the logo featured on the set, and run one of their commercials mid-way thru the program.

Since it's primarily only old(er) people who watch the news anyway, maybe a company like Proctor&Gamble or Pfizer would see it in their interest to sponsor a show aimed at their target demographic? And with a guaranteed sponsor, the newscasts wouldn't have to stack their shows with "health and backyard" stories in order to attract an audience. I don't know if the economics of this idea make sense to a sponsor company or the networks, but it seems worth considering.

Unless things get of hand...

Photo illustration by Jay.  Bob Schieffer photo from CBS News.

(Click to enlarge.)

1 comment:

ABT said...

Good ideas! Although I am totally down with that Dr. Pepper endorsement.