NIGHTLINE

TODAY’S WORRY

I’ve been so busy getting ready for turkey day that I really haven’t been paying too much attention to the news. This morning, in my early morning off and on again dozing, I heard a piece on NPR about tonight being the last night for Ted Koppel on Nightline. Host Steve Inskeep talked with Tom Bettag, senior executive producer of the show. The two discussed the changes to television journalism over the last two decades and the commercial pressures that confront reporters, editors, and producers.

Bettag said that there was a hard drive in the broadcast media to attract target audiences, specifically the 30-somethings whose pocketbooks make advertisers happy. The older demographic (I guess that includes me) just doesn’t stay up late enough to watch Nightline. So they have to change the type of story they report on and the way it is presented.

I looked to see who is taking over for Ted Koppel and found that they are three attractive news correspondents. Perhaps younger people get bored with only one talking head. Terry Moran is the ABC chief White House correspondent and formerly covered the Supreme Court. Cynthia Mc Fadden has served as ABC senior legal correspondent and is known for her news documentary series, “In the Jury Room.” Martin Bashir, an award winning journalist, brought “Living with Michael Jackson” to TV. Twenty-seven million Americans tuned into that. He also interviewed Princess Diana and Louise Woodward, the au pair who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

So what it looks like to me, is that ABC is going with three proven correspondents but may want to err on the side of sensationalism. It’s a pity that the news is driven not just by the events but by the advertisers’ desire for a younger audience.

As far as we old folks are concerned, yeah, we go to bed early. But has ABC ever heard of TiVo?

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