TV News v. Entertainment
I do not watch a lot of television, but I have to side with the critics who charge that Dateline NBC "may have besmirched its reputation with its series of shows about the network's entertainment fare."
I come at it from a perspective rather hostile to the entertainment side of television, so it should not be surprising that I find the blurring of news and entertainment to be regrettable. But I am not the only one:
"The 'Dateline' brand is cheapened every time it's prostituted to shill for other NBC shows, and the last thing anyone at the network should want is to drag down the reputation of NBC News," wrote columnist Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun-Times.
What's disappointing is that each hour represents less time that NBC News could be digging into the fragile state of the world, said Marquette University professor Philip Seib, author of "Beyond the Front Lines: How the News Media Cover a World Shaped by War."
Of course, it is hard to place the blame entirely on the network when it is the public at large which is clamoring for this pap:
"The shows we did that people have issues with, the audience certainly watched," Shapiro said. "There's no doubt about that. The ratings speak for themselves." (Each of the shows, which ran as specials, outrated the typical fare in their time slots).
Though normally I would take this as yet another sign of America's intellectual decline (and I am rather tempted to do so here), perhaps I can put a positive spin and suggest that the Internet (including blogs, but particularly journalistic websites) is filling a large portion of the pure news demand that previously might have been attracted to television news. Of course, as a non-television viewer, I have always thought (and still think) that one is better off with a good old greasy newspaper than anything on NBC. So maybe I am just being proven correct.