Changes affect us all…

tvspy.com had a couple of interesting notes today. An LA Times story about how mothers are tuning out morning news and talks shows:

“Watching morning television for me is the equivalent of reading People magazine in the dentist’s office,” commented one mom.

While this dip statistically is small – around 4% – it is mirrored in the evening shows:

“The number of women watching the three nightly network broadcasts has dropped by 510,000, while male viewers have declined by 334,000.”

Second story, from AP/Seattle Times, had some somber words from Walter Cronkite.

“In this information age and the very complicated world in which we live today, the need for high-quality reporting is greater than ever,” he told journalism students and professionals at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. “It’s not just the journalist’s job at risk here. It’s American democracy. It is freedom.”

This in relationship to continued cuts in numbers of local newspapers and cuts in resources by TV stations, leading to

“…less local coverage, less diversity of opinion and fewer jobs for journalists over the past quarter-century.”

I can understand the shift from morning news-talk shows. While they often have content, they are also part entertainment and the commercial mix interferes too much with the information. The second story about Cronkite has me concerned. I tell my students that whoever controls the media – the information flow – controls the people and the country. In this country the media is a watchdog – not in control of the country, but ever vigilant, watching government for possible mistakes and misdeeds. A shrinking pool of media and media resources means more potential for misdeeds. Fortunately this is balanced out with the rise in citizen journalists – folks who, while they may have an agenda, keep an eye on their area of expertise, their area of conern.
Cronkite is correct in his concern for our continued freedom. We are free because information sets us free. With bad information or one-sided or controled information, we become puppets of the information masters.

Finally, go to Mediashift for a look at the the history of “citizen journalists” and a comparison between today’s revolution and the revolution caused by the introduction of the printing press. Technology allows everyone to be a journalist and a publisher. While this may be unsettling for those who are used to filtering/deciding what news is…it cannot be stopped.

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