Comments on: Ted Koppel’s misguided nostalgia Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:54:39 +0000 hourly 1 By: Hasancan Tue, 19 Nov 2013 22:23:38 +0000 “No thinking person would trade the current mediascape… for the ancient one (that) ruled the news universe.”
There’s a problem right there, Jack, the “thinking person” is an endangered species.

By: AMajorLeagueOne Wed, 14 Dec 2011 05:25:57 +0000 Well, that didn’t take long. RE: the general confusion about the difference between an essay (or column) and an “article”, see rooters777’s Dec. 12 comment.

Oh, the humanity!

By: rooters777 Tue, 13 Dec 2011 04:13:16 +0000 Ted Koppel is one of the best interviewers of our the last generation. I have learned a lot watching Nightline when he hosted, you could actually find the truth. That’s much better than the spoon-fed regurgitated news we get today from the major media, local media, newspapers, twitter, or comedians. This article did not ring true.

By: AMajorLeagueOne Tue, 13 Dec 2011 00:41:39 +0000 Wow. Shafer, if the maxim “more is better” (which you obviously espouse) were actually true, your bloated post would be solid gold . . . instead of what a modern-day Emperor Joseph might, justifiably this time, characterize as merely “too many words”. (Apologies to “Amadeus”.)

That Koppel and his on-air generation were relatively few in number, compared to the “journalists” found today under every virtual rock, is/was obviously not their fault, nor within their control. Nor does the relatively lesser “choice” of that time equate with lesser quality (or make those who rhapsodize about that better time guilty of myopia or self-aggrandizement). To the contrary, Shafer: Have you not noticed, are you CAPABLE of noticing,that journalism IS, in fact, in rapid and precipitous decline?

An “endless, high-quality banquet”? Yikes. The Web, including all these “choices”, resembles nothing so much as a Tower of Babble. If quantity indeed equals quality, then I must confess I’ve been guilty of grossly misunderestimating the current field of Republican candidates. Sorry. My mistake.

News and entertainment belong in separate corners, for a reason (just as news and opinion do). While I would agree with those (such as Keith Olbermann, who used Morrow as an example) that the myth of the disinterested reporter is not only a delusional, but an unnecessary, myth, nevertheless we have slid perilously far into a world where the line between opinion and reporting is not only confused, but where such blurring is celebrated.

For this, I blame the demogoguery-specialists known as the GOP, most especially beginning with Reagan. (Forget Jack Kennedy as the harbinger of the TV age in politics; it was The Gipper — whose role as actor-turned-president was even more ominous than any of us at the time could have realized.) Arising in quick succession after Reagan were Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannaty, Cheney, and the many other plagues upon the Republic.

So woefully confused is the general public, about what makes entertainment, reporting and opinion separate spheres, that people almost universally comment on some “article” they’ve read (usually online). The “article” is almost invariably what we used to call an “essay” — i.e., a piece that incorporates facts and events (or reputed facts and events), but is generously leavened with opinion. (The difference, among quality journalists practicing their art, is that they scrupulously avoid injecting their opinions into their pieces . . . even though they make little or no effort to wring every bit of their personal passion and motivation out of themselves — a futile project, in any event.)

But please understand: I don’t fault only the Far Right (notice I didn’t say “conservatives”) for this sorry trend. The Palins and Bachmanns are right about the existence of a Lamestream media . . . but not because the media are, in fact, any sort of monolith, much less a “liberal” one. No, the bulk of POPULAR media are lame because they are trite, just as often as they are reactionary. Case in point: CNN, with its ridiculous “Situation Room” (whose parade of mostly inconsequential piffle is an insult to the gravitas to which the REAL Situation Room is dedicated).

Shafer, you point to Edward R. Murrow as an early example of the [desirable and okay] blend of entertainment and news; as proof, you say that “in the early 1950s [he] investigated wrong-doings with his See It Now program at the same time he was chatting up celebrities (Brando, Bogart, Monroe, Sinatra) on his Person to Person broadcasts.” I never saw “Person to Person”, but it sure sounds like you’re describing two SEPARATE programs.

The rise of the Right Wing demagog-ocracy feeds upon the “democratization” of information bestowed upon us by the Internet. It is an atmosphere in which Science and fact are for suckers, and where all opinions are equal, fungible things — whether spewed off the cuff by a former high school basketball player turned sports anchor turned Veep candidate, or thoughtfully explicated, and documented, by a Nobel laureate. (Everyone is entitled to one, therefore everyone HAS one, on every subject — and, ipso facto, they MUST be equal in the eyes of the Lord!) It is an atmosphere in which even one of the few remaining harbors for quality journalism, PBS, regularly presents the “two sides” of every argument, and quite obviously buys into the now-popular pseudo-truism that as long as “both sides” are presented (“A says, then B says, then C says ‘Thank you both’ “), the journalist’s work is done. Not even close. (I think of that wonderful reproof of the New York Times’ Judith Miller (and her shameful toadying to the Dubya administration’s Iraq war rationales): “Journalism is not dictation.”

Concomitant with the plague of news-as-entertainment, Right Wing yak radio, and fungible opinions, is that other phenomenon known as “fake news” — the commercial message disguised as a news report. (Which, along with the war against Reason, and the enshrinement of Joe Sixpack’s every opinion, reveals the third leg of the Right’s dangerous Tripod of Inanity: The deification, and complete unshackling, of Business. How very appropriate, and inevitable, when you think of it. Genuine news departments have always been at odds with their networks’ entertainment divisions, ever mindful of ratings. Maybe all of this simply illustrates why, in a democracy that truly yearns to be free, the NPR and PBS models are the only way to go.)

The reason I’m DELIGHTED to see Koppel back is that he always knew how to moderate a discussion, not just attend it as a bystander. He knew how to insist, and keep insisting, that he receive ANSWERS to the questions he asked. He knew how to follow up. This should not be so neglected a practice as to have become a lost art, but alas, it is.

By: Lerpiniere Mon, 21 Nov 2011 14:44:44 +0000 Jack,

Like a kid who won’t listen to his parents pleas not to stick his finger in the electrical socket, if you would spend less time closing your ears to Ted, and more giving thought to what he is saying — you might actually know what the heck you are talking about. Specifically, you define Ted’s complaint about the media giving people what they “want instead of need.” You respond by ignoring his point, and making a straw man argument about the accessibility and diversity of news sources today. In this, you entirely miss Ted’s point. He is referring to the editorial judgment of news editors and producers, and how they pander to public taste rather than inspire it. Fox News playing to conservatives; MSNBC playing to liberals. In many ways, your blog about Ted is symptomatic of what Ted is referring to — the cheap, two-bit play for attention that can be gotten with ad hominem attacks, rather than substantive, thought provoking essays that stimulate the way we view the world and each other. Ted focuses on in ideas — you, apparently on ad hominems with people. Now off to your room for a editorial Time Out!

By: M.C.McBride Mon, 31 Oct 2011 03:47:56 +0000 I would agree that ABC, NBC, and especially Fox do not provide much of anything useful on their evening broadcasts. CNBC is good, but they have abandon any attempt to critique many flawed economic dogmas.
If you are getting your information from several high quality online sources and viewing all articles with a skeptical mind there is an almost overwhelming level of information available. Which creates the need that is still not quite met –a high quality relevant news cast. I am rooting for Reuters.

By: emk Sat, 29 Oct 2011 16:23:20 +0000 Koppel is right. The media today is a shadow of its former self. Thats not to say the media was great back then, but it was much better. Compare coverage of the Vietnam war and the Iraqi invasion. The former was more or less independent, the latter completely embedded.

The fact that there are more choices available today does not change the fact that Koppel is right. The information is there today if people care to look. But that has always been true. Even with the narrower mediascape back then, the information was always there for those who cared to dig it up.

The question though is why that information is not in the mainstream sources that reach most people? The bottom line for me is the following. A person who got their news primarily from mainstream sources, radio, TV and newspaper thirty years ago was a better and more informed consumer than they would be doing the same thing today.

So today we have access to the internet and the foreign press and to be as well informed as that citizen of 30 years ago you have to go to the foreign press today. Reading your local daily, listening to the radio and watching the major networks and cable news channels, won’t cut it anymore.


By: KETE Sat, 29 Oct 2011 13:54:56 +0000 Ted is right. Media fixation on cases like Cassey Anthony, Terry Schiavo, Kardashians, indicate that Murdoch has made all of them behave like New York Post, tabloid news. What has no long lasting impact except 30 second headline news.
So challenging Ted is like acting as teenager who do not like what to do at that age. Why not analyze and understand where he is coming for. What he is trying to say and have a conversation. Ted has a point and needs to be respected.

By: OFA7 Sat, 29 Oct 2011 13:00:00 +0000 As a child of the sixties and ever observant of the sound bite evolution, I am disappointed, in the least, and “mad as all hell”.

For those who rely solely on broadcast media, I am concerned. They are led to opinion without meaningful discussion. When it does appear it is a programming slot and not a concerted effort of the broadcast media to bring to light a full story in digestible segments.

If you were Walter Cronkite or Edward R Murrow how would describe broadcast media content today?

By: mahadragon Sat, 29 Oct 2011 08:26:12 +0000 Ditto to all the comments previous. This guy Jack Shafer is the one who is misguided, not Ted Koppel. Most of these comments are right on the mark. The media coverage today is far from an “endless high quality banquet”. It’s certainly a banquet, but the quality is another matter entirely.