05.13.2004 12:00 PM
Integrity, quality, context recipe for success in TV news, says Koppel

The role of television news as a profit center is an important reason the number of news viewers has waned in recent years, ABC News anchor and managing editor Ted Koppel told a gathering of the Radio-Television News Directors Association at NAB2004.

"ABC News" anchor and managing editor Ted Koppel speaks to an NAB2004 audience.

Koppel made his remarks after accepting the organization’s Paul White Award April 19.

Over the past 40 years, Koppel explained, network news operations have undergone a transformation from a loss leader used to mollify the FCC or troublesome Congressional committees to a profit center expected to earn our keep. At the same time, product marketers have told broadcasters they are uninterested in an audience that’s over 50.

Koppel began his address after an irreverent videotaped introduction by Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central. “What is most relevant to all of us who labor in the vineyards of broadcast news, though, is that Jon Stewart is stealing our audience.”

“The question is: Why are the kids turning to the comedians and the satirists to get their news?” he asked.

“I have no problem with comedians and entertainers pretending to be journalists,” said Koppel. “My problem is with journalists pretending to be entertainers.”

Advancements in editorial judgment have not matched progress in technology, he explained. “All too often, we delude ourselves into believing that by simply focusing a live camera on an event, and dropping in the occasional ad lib, we are committing journalism. We're not. Journalism requires context and prioritizing. It entails separating the wheat from the chaff.”

For more information, please visit: www.rtnda.org.

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