DAN RATHER URGES PRESIDENT TO HOST "NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON JOURNALISM" TO RESTORE STANDARDS FOR U.S. NEWS REPORTING
by American sociobiologist, Rebecca D. Costa
Speaking on The Costa Report, CBS news veteran Dan Rather said that consolidation in the media business has resulted in an overall degradation in news reporting in the U.S. According to Rather, 4-6 news conglomerates control 80% of all news distribution, so, "No matter where you go on the dial, the lead story is the same, the format is the same, and the lack of quality is the same." Rather attributes the erosion in news quality to how journalism is viewed by big business: no longer as a "public service" but rather as programming whose aim is profitability.
The consequence of the shift leads to a situation in which "entertainment and celebrity reporting" has overtaken in-depth investigation. As proof of this, Rather points to the elimination of many foreign bureaus, as well as the unwillingness to spend the money required to send reporters to the front lines, or to pursue long-term investigations. Rather worries that "real investigative reporting" has become rare – a trend which leads to an uninformed public and voter base. "An informed citizenry is absolutely essential to a constitutional republic built on the principles of freedom and democracy such as ours," said Rather.
When asked whether the Obama administration's attempt to put government observers inside newsrooms to understand how news stories are selected and presented was a good idea, Rather was quick to describe this as "government overreach," emphatically stating that the government has no business in setting guidelines for the news. Instead, Rather urged the President to call for a "National Conference on Journalism" to facilitate a discussion among reporters and media conglomerates on the future of news reporting. Rather expressed hope that such a conference might produce new business models for news programming – ones that are different from entertainment programming based on ratings and advertising sales.
To hear the full interview with Dan Rather, visit www.thecostareport.com