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Monday, April 10, 2006

Same old media, same old story

Bill Carter's story in today's New York Times is headlined, "Will Couric As Anchor Revive News at Night?" Let me field that one: no.

Not surprisingly, president of NBC News Steve Capus wishfully thinks it will.

"I think with Katie going to CBS, people are going to be talking about the evening news again," Mr. Capus said.

Talking about it ain't the same as watching it. Sure, CBS may see a spike at the beginning of Couric's run, but Capus can't really think this will translate into a larger overall viewership for the three networks' evening news shows. Or can he be that out of touch? Bill Carter puts his own old media spin on things:

However Ms. Couric ultimately fares as the new anchor of the "CBS Evening News," her decision has thrown a new spotlight on network news, which in the past decade or so has been all but written off as a passé, perhaps obsolete part of the news business.

You mean like newspapers, Mr. Carter?

The desperation of old media has a definable scent: it's the musty smell of "we were here first" mixed with the flop sweat odor of "we really don't understand what's happening." The networks trumpet their decisions to feed their newscasts over the interweb as if it will make any difference, not realizing that the same people who aren't watching their shows on television also won't be watching them on the 'net. Why? Because they don't have to. Why would you want to get the news in that format if you've got alternatives? In the time it takes a nightly news show to cover five stories, I can ready thirty stories that give me a wider and deeper perspective on what's happening.

And then there's the Times itself, going full bore into the electronic age by putting perhaps its most valuable commodities, its opinion columnists, behind the TimesRejecttm wall. And now, as Ann Althouse reports, they're having Stanley Fish blog from behind the same wall.
But this Stanley Fish blog is just crazy. It's a blog. But you can't link. By having blogs, the Times seems to want to say we're cool. By making them unlinkable, it's saying we're clueless. But maybe they want their subscribers to stay out of the linked-up blogosphere and wade around in the Times blogs. Stay here, in our safe domain -- our clean, well-lit aquarium -- with our approved bloggers. Of course, we riffraff bloggers, in wanting to link, are trying to send them more readers and to get a lively conversation going.
Does anybody remember the time before TimesRejecttm, when MoDo and Krugman were two of the most blogged about writers? I feel like an old man having to tell some young whippersnappers how things used to be back in the old days.

Les Moonves at least kind of gets it.
In November, Mr. Moonves told a Reuters reporter, "We've got to move forward or else the people watching our evening news are going to be dead, and there's going to be nobody there to replace them."
He clearly doesn't understand that twenty percent of the CBS Evening News' viewership may already be dead, depending on particular state laws, but it's a step in the right direction.

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