MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Damn, I had a really good post and lost it because there was something on the ABC News site that made Firefox cough up a hairball. Oh well.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, RIP Peter Jennings. One of the last real journalists on TV is gone. In his wake are blow-dried, telegenic actors who read other people's copy and look good doing it. Or ex pundits, or wannabe pundits. Everyone but journalists.

Peter Jennings is dead, Walter Cronkite has been in retirement for more than a decade, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather have also retired, and Bill Moyers is in semi-retirement. In their place is the nightmare of infotainment that Paddy Chayefsky envisioned in Network and John Brunner envisioned before him in Stand On Zanzibar. I suppose, in my capacity as staff on ToonMag.Com and in my years of writing about such insubstantial stuff as rock music and animation, that I am "part of the problem" in this case.

There's a song from the '80s I can't remember the name of or the artist, but I remember a lyric: "You read the entertainment papers every night, and you think that that's the news." (Someone email me with the info -- the link on this page works!) It was getting to that point back then, the trend was already well on its way in 1976 when Network came out. Now "the news" is basically an infomercial with the occasional spice of a car chase or two, a forest fire and a propaganda piece or two. If you go beyond local, to national news, the added local flavor of the car chases and forest fires are factored out unless they are sufficiently titillating to go nationwide. And with the advent of CNN and Fox News Channel, the infomercials and propaganda and occasional titillating chase or fire get played wall to wall, 24/7, with the "all 10 of the hits, all the time" heavy rotation grace of your local ClearChannel-owned pop station.

Bye bye Mr. Jennings. Au revoir. Don't forget to file that report from the Great Beyond.