Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Old New Star of Network News

At 64, Charles Gibson is suddenly “hot.” Today the New York Times, Washington Post and even CBS are agog over the ABC anchor. His scheduled retirement has been put off in the wake of unexpected ratings success.

When something unusual happens, you can count on the media, especially in reporting about itself, to replace overturned conventional wisdom rapidly with newly minted clichés.

After writing off network news as antiquated in the digital era, critics are now citing Gibson for his good old-fashioned journalistic judgment and, by implication, courage in refusing to lead off the news with Jerry Falwell’s demise, as NBC and ABC did.

“You don’t normally lead with obituaries for someone with a legacy that is very positive in some ways, very negative in other ways,” Gibson told the Times. “It was a sense I had that it didn’t rise to the point of the lead.”

It’s sad that sound judgment is seen as bravery in a time when the Radical Religious Right has cowed not only politicians but news people into giving their leaders
more recognition and influence than their numbers would justify.

But Gibson’s success is a plus for older journalists and a source of mild bemusement for younger ones. “He keeps you on your toes,” says ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz, “"and how can you not love an anchorman who calls you 'Toots'?"

No comments: