Tuesday, May 29, 2007
“Now set to work and spin all night till early dawn, and if by that time you haven't spun the straw into gold you shall die."
The NY Post celebrity beat throbs with word that “ratings at top dog 'Today' have slid to a 13-year low” and that CBS executives are “looking for a loophole in Couric’s contract” that will land Katie’s long format cuddly warmth on the not very cuddly but format-friendly CBS Morning News.
As is pathetically typical while the edifice of American journalism crumbles, the manicured big media frat boys of the Episcopal east, as Page 6 appears to confirm, are in a flop sweat tizzy over logo redesign and power news bimbo horse racing.
Sadly, with TV news as it has been practiced since “electronic news gathering equipment” (or ENG) started to become commonplace in the early 70s, the problem isn’t the wrapper but the contents.
Concepts once so trendy as location live shots and “news” more instant than the hour or more it took for film to be processed, screened and edited, once seemed to offer endless possibilities but withered root bound in lazy, formulaic program styles that also originated in the early 70s success of the “eyewitness team” multi-anchor/specialist reporter format.
Aside from all the regulatory and business shenanigans of the 70s and 80s, the ENG and team news “friends” formula seemed relatively unaffected by 24/7 cable news which copied and endlessly repeated its themes in tidy 30, 15, 10 or 5 minutes chunks.
Executives and their out of house consulting services delighted in staging expensive news settings resembling the bridge of the Starship Enterprise for our bubbly in studio teleprompter slaves and paying huge royalties for theme music with successful market track records.
International, Business and Feature reporting beats eventually winnowed down to celebrity gossip reports, gynecologically focused medical stories and endless scare weather…
Cue the rainbow and butterflies ‘cause all seemed right with the world.
Then came the Internet and easy free web video hosting…Suddenly one of the team friends wishing “Bob” a warm thanks following an obviously taped report not only seems, to the post millennial video sophisticate, superfluous but comic and absurd.
Old media ratings plunged and show no signs of lessening…the game, kiddies, is over…Err, rather mutating.
Oh, I expect we’ll continue to hear the dinosaurs bellow from the distant Internet tar pit over the next few years along with blame-gaming and eventually, pitifully, government subsidies.