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Newscasters: The News Business As Show Business

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Powers' indignation at the intrusion of show-biz values into broadcast news runneth over in this shrill dissection of the corruption of electronic journalism. The villains of the piece are the ""news consultants""--market researchers brought in to bolster ratings by giving the public ""what it wants."" What it wants turns out to be: shorter items, funnier items, more human interest tidbits. In terms of format, what ""sells"" is a Happy Talk team of breezy personalities with weathermen and sportscasters looming large. Or, in the words of Fred Friendly: ""I don't think these guys care about anything. Except how their hair looks."" A TV critic who tends to overwrite, Powers calls this ""cybernetic news"" and he thinks it's leading us down the garden path to Orwell and Oz. Cybernetic news, he fears, has all but supplanted the Insurrectional and ombudsman functions of journalism; these days we're fed stories about sex fantasies, violent crimes, runaway wives, disasters, and pop personalities. Powers has done his own monitoring of the 6 o'clock reports on all channels: ABC affiliates are by far the worst offenders. Though this sort of soft suds folderol has not yet penetrated the networks, there are signs--again at ABC--that it's on the way. An old complaint bolstered by fresh evidence that news-as-entertainment/s escalating. Pub Date: June 30th, 1977 Publisher: St. Martin's Kirkus reviews

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