Friday, February 10, 2006

News Biz

Tues, AM ... Hi ... death being as certain as taxes, no great surprise that Reuven Frank - ex NBC news head and creator of Huntley/Brinkley - has kicked the bucket at ripe old age of 85. I remember vividly ... for several days, watching Reuven Frank and his crew putting together the nightly NBC news, just as H-B was starting. Boy, they were smooth and exciting professionals ... and I'm sure those few days of study under the WAAM Fellowship, had a permanent effect on my news thoughts, theories and practices.

Another giant gone .... and what's left ? Good-looking guys and pretty, perfectly coiffed, young femmes ... both, mostly under-educated & under-experienced ... and network organizations that send a guy like Woodruff into the awful Iraq mess (the fact that, so far, we're getting no further medical details on his condition, would seem to indicate that things ain't good). No way to convince me that sending an anchor - just beginning his new evening anchorship - into that uncontrolled and deadly mess, just for the sake of publicity ... makes any sense at all. (Can you imagine how much the regular ABC foreign correspondents, on the scene, must have become steamed, over having their New York hot shot fly in for a few days, don all that battle gear and do some quick, unremarkable standuppers ? ... and yet, I feel so damned sorry for his family, which was just beginning to enjoy the Multi-Million-$$-New York Broadcasting&! nbsp;Big Time.)

I hate sounding like a crochety old, repetitive, outrageous veteran, but what the nets should be doing right now, is to revolutionize their business and bring it into the 21st century ... doing away with all the old, 60-plus-year-old styles, techniques and practices ... the old 6-7:30pm time slots for 1/2-hour 'casts ... do the news at 9pm, perhaps one-hour long (if you're gonna continue doing world news on the 3 old nets) ... perhaps do away with studio "anchors" altogether, and just have field reporting ... and voice-over visuals, when on-scene live coverage (such as finance or sudden weather disasters) is impossible.

Think about it ... do you click on a newscast, because of who's anchoring ... or because you think you'll get the best and most complete news coverage from that slot ?

Yea, Reuven Frank was one of the giants ... and among our broadcast journalism heroes ... but 1965 ain't 2006.



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