Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pulling the Plug on Network News

If a news anchor falls in the forest, does she make a sound?  The news the other day that Katie Couric is either 1) Leaving  or 2) Being shown the door was hardly news.  The first solo woman anchor of a national newscast goes bye bye?  Ho hum. 

I think the bigger news (pun intended) is that this may in fact mark the end of network evening news. 

No, network newscasts and anchors aren't going away.  But times have changed.  With the advent of cable news and the Internet, the evening network news (at 5:30 here in Chicago) doesn't matter much anymore. 

Quickly, can you name ONE network news anchor? 

You're not alone.  According to the Pew Research Center, network news has lost 55% of its audience since 1980.

In other words, network news hasn't been "in" since the days of Elf and Arnold Horshack.  

The only saving grace is that network news is (mildly) profitable and the lowest rated network program has more viewers than the highest rated cable news offering.  The best of the worst; an NIT basketball tournament for newsies.

I gave up on newscasts about 15 years ago after a gradual realization that I trust what I read much more than what I watch. Truth is, by the end of my day the top news stories are old and I'm looking for analysis.  Political shows, websites and newspaper commentary fill the void. 

Some of this is generational.  I am firmly convinced that if a meteor struck my parent's home at 9:45 p.m., rescue workers would arrive and find my Dad in the rubble trying to tune in for the ten o'clock news. 

But the days of iconic anchors have passed.  Or have they?  I would enjoy hearing what you think.


  1. Watching Katie Courick pushed aside in Egypt said it all. If that is TV journalism, then my definition needs to change.

  2. Well said, though that's certainly an anchor or reporters "dream." By that I mean being that deep into a story, unless of course you become the story.