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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Brian, John, and David...Oh My.

This has been quite the week for the media.  In Broadcast Journalism, NBC's Brian Williams was given a 6 month suspension from hosting that network's Nightly News.  This was a swift response from his superiors due to allegations he "embellished" his account of being hit with enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq War in 2003. 

For some background read my blogpost titled Brian William's and his Faulty Memory: A PR Nightmare - See more at:

I applaud NBC's quick response and sincerely hope that Mr. Williams stay far, far away from the anchor chair.  His desire to integrate himself into the entertainment side of the network moved far beyond the point of promotion in my opinion. 

On the same day this news was announced, Comedy Central cable network was informed that The Daily Show host, John Stewart would be stepping down.  As I understand, The Daily Show is a parody of the news/political pundit shows.  It appeals to a demographic slightly younger than me and Stewart has hosted the show for over 10 years. 

I have never seen this show so I'm not sure why there was so much hoopla about this news.  Parody shows have been around for my lifetime and there has always been some satire of the news.  I remember enjoying HBO's "Not Necessarily the News" in the 80's.  I'm not sure what the appeal of The Daily Show was that it attracted political figures to it. 

The Daily Show and its success with a younger demographic may have been seen by the major networks as a model for it's own change over the years. 

Over the last 15 to 20 years there has been a steady and creeping emphasis on entertainment in all areas of public life.  This has been very noticeable, to me, in all forms of the news business.  This includes the garbage printed in the local paper and reported on the television news.  Combine that with the overall consolidation in the media and what's left is a public that's dumbed down, complacent and misinformed.

During this time, the growth of the Internet and bloggers and social media has been seen as a challenger to local and national news media.  David Carr, who died on Thursday, was a "media commentator" who reported on all of these changes and challenges to the "Traditional Media."  The outpouring of sadness at his passing was no surprise to me.  Not only was a member of the newspaper of the establishment, he also had a professional stake in the Times' response to the new media landscape.  I had first became aware of him while seeing him on Charlie Rose's show a few years back as he was promoting a documentary called Page1.  In the documentary Carr discussed all the changes to the newspaper business and the challenges The New York Times faces from bloggers and events like the WikiLeaks document releases which was happening at the time.

Carr had quite a history he wrote a book, The Night of the Gun, which dealt with his drug history and brush with the law.  At 58 years of age, he was far too young to pass, however in the pictures I've seen of him recently he did look sick.  May he rest in peace. 

What a week for those who enjoy following the media.  My wish is that the corporations that control the news pull back, just some, and try to reduce the emphasis on entertainment and look to report the news and truly inform the public.  Is it too far gone for that?

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