Cenk Uygur has an interesting but misguided post on the declining value of nightly news anchors:
We’re not interested in someone regurgitating the news to us and taking a half hour to do it. We don’t need a professional news anchor to tell us what the news is. This isn’t 1955. I’ve got all the news in the world at my fingertips, what do I need this guy to tell me what he thinks is important? Who cares what Brian Williams thinks is important?
In the old days, you needed these authority figures to sort out the news for you and tell you what was important and weed out the riff-raff. But these aren’t the old days. I have a mind of my own. I don’t need to borrow a news anchor’s. And if I were to borrow one, that’s not the first place I would look.
He goes on to say that between the AP, Google News, and Keith Olbermann, nobody needs Brian, Katie, and Charlie anymore. Wrong. Dead wrong. Yes, the “big three” nightly news broadcasts are stumbling right now, trying to find their place in the new world of instant gratification news. But the truth is, they play a more valuable role than ever.
In a world that values instant gratification and “perspective reinforcement” in their news (ahem, Keith Olbermann, DailyKos, etc), nightly news provides a more balanced and longterm perspective on the day. The editorial, voice-of-God function that the nightly news plays is exactly why it’s valuable; in a world with too much information, much of it now tailored to our interests and prejudices, there is a stabilizing function that the nightly news plays. Basically, it’s saying “no matter what you read all day, here are the most important things you *should* be paying attention to.”
That’s not to say I watch it (unless I’m still at the office, which is often enough). Of course, I’m often immersed in the very news they’ll be broadcasting, so I’m probably the exception rather than the rule. Like it or not Cenk…Katie, Brian, and Charlie still set the agenda for a lot of other news outlets and for the discussions and actions in Washington and on Wall Street. Maybe for that reason alone, it’s worth paying attention.