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CBS News Memogate: What can we learn?

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posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 03:33 AM
Lets hear about the heads that rolled at CBS News for MEMOGATE,
From their own website

They report

(CBS) Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service.
Yeah!!! Accountabillity, at least some!

the big reason stated,

The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.
As a journalist working in TV news, i sit here scratching my head thinking....NO DUH!!!!!

I am NOT suprised that managers made a really obvious and stupid mistake as the ones that led up to CBS smashing its credibillity against the rocks like they did.

There has been alot of talk about "political Bias" associated with this report and its failings.
WHO CARES? OF COURSE it seems there was political bias in this report, even if NOONE in the industry will fess up to it. (This would only further crush credibillity) RAY CHARLES can see that objectivity flew out the window, but i think there is a DEEPER reason this report was botched so badly.

My BIGGEST peeve about my profession is that managment ONLY seems to care about one thing;

Ratings = $$$$

What does this mean?

In a nut shell i feel that in the push to MAKE A BUCK, TV news managment SELLS OUT its credibillity every day.
Why isnt ANYONE in the media questioning making a buck before credibillity, and providing real information of value instead of fluffy, barely new, thats boarderline entertainment?

Where is the FCC to hold those licenced to "serve the public trust" with some issues of journalistic integrity?

Yet they sit around with consultants and try and dream up new slick tricks, gimicks, graphics, contests and what not to try and increase their piece of an ever shrinking pie.

Dont they wonder why news viewership has been shrinking for a while now? (im sure consultants have all sorts of demographics to explain this, ive heard some doozies)
Everyone is too afraid of loosing the MONEY race to worry too much that true journalism is being burried.

People constantly ask me, why arent you newspeople doing more investigative stories?
Why do you tease me thru your news about something of intrest, only to tick me off by dragging me thru the entire show to see 30 seconds of info that wasnt worth the HYPE put onto it?

I have sat in TOO many staff meetings where a producer and managers brush aside a good news story only to pick one that will "appeal to the target demographic"....meaning giving the viewers fluff instead of substance because your core viewers fit a profile.
Example...a 2 million dollar drug raid story burried to do a PR induced one about a donught place giving away donught cakes for a few weddings.
Also note that only appealing to a target demo ISNT trying to attract new viewers, its just feeding old ones.

Cookie cutter news, where every station in town is trying to copy each others look, graphics, stories, format etc etc sounds alot like plagerism, but again, This isnt trying anything new. Why wouldnt i tune into one or the other station if they're all the same?

WHY would I DARE say such things?
Because its about time news managment got busted for making these lame kind of decisions...putting MONEY before their credibillity and intergrity
seems like a loosing strategy. Without those BASIC journalistic principals, your just another entertainment tonite.

I know, "This is a Business". We get beat up with that one all the time.
When TV first got started, they knew THEN that News was NOT what generated the best revenue, it was the programming. They offered News to build credibillity and clout as well as fufill the FCC requirment that they served the community.

Now only $$$ seems to matter. Being first is nothing if you screw it up on the air.

Well all you viewers arent helping....
Most of the demographics, that chart the show every 5 minutes or more, tell us alot about what you watch, why, for how long, when to go to commercial, etc etc...they track viewing as a science and stations fight each other for TENTHs of a point just to get a leg up on the competition so their sales departments can charge MORE for ad time.

The public deserves better than treating you like a couch potato, crunched number, with an 8th grade mentality. (which is where the "level" of the writting for news is targeted...for the biggest block of people...assuming your the LOWEST common denominator.)

Believe it or not, SOME of us in news STILL try and fight the system from within to be better journalists,
not just money grubbing sales people with a bag of slick tricks to lure in a base level of drones.
(And we get introuble ALL the time for doing so...yet another reason i feel this CBS report got soo screwed...too much "yes man" mentality and too much FEAR of bringing up a diverse opinion against the people signing your paycheck.)

Lets hear it, i know there is a lot of opinion about the media, which slant, government intrusion/control etc...hit me with it......... I know my boss would if they read this...!


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