Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Do you trust your TV news personality?
I recently finished read Mike Wallace by Peter Rader. It dovetailed well with Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley which I finished earlier this year. This was a faster read and more of a soap opera. Peter Rader, also a filmmaker, moved up the release of his biography after the death of Wallace in April 2012. Rader's biography delved more into the personal details of Wallace's life as well as his mental well being than did Brinkley in his book about Cronkite.
Both men worked for CBS News in the second half of their lives. It appears there was a blending of family members as a consequence. Chris Wallace, currently of Fox News, dated Cronkite's daughter, Nancy. Wallace and his first wife divorced shortly after Chris' birth and his childhood was spent with a stepfather, Bill Leonard, who was a higher up at CBS. Leonard pushed hard to get Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes when his luck was down forever changing his life and giving him the journalistic credentials that he craved.
Because I am sixty, both reads were a walk through my lifetime history. These were the events that I watched unfold on TV but which also shaped my life. Now I better understand how the news media does and has always helped frame but also shape those events. CBS News, as have all other news sources, always relied on "the ratings" and the bottom line. Do I like that I now know that after Wallace would do a hard ball interviews for 60 Minutes there was a great deal of editing done for drama's sake. That included a second filming and editing of Wallace's reactions and facial expressions to the questions he had asked those interviewed. I watched 60 Minutes this week and wondered if this technique was still being used.
The media helps us feel some connection to one another after an event like Sandy Hook, but the media also picks and chooses its presentation and focus. Now I better understand why and realize that many of the things I detest about current news networks have always been. The more people who tune in, the higher the ratings and advertising dollars. The more popular the broadcaster, the more power they have to shape national and world events and policies. But the bottom line, it is harder for information that all should know to be withheld and kept secret. I guess it is a love/hate relationship.