Politics & Policy

A New News World

Editor’s note: Click here to listen to the original radio commentary this transcript is based on.

How do you get your news?

Do you read it in the paper, listen to the radio, or watch it on TV?

Do you watch World News or the CBS Evening News?

Or do you watch Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric?

A study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates a lot of us are looking to non-traditional outlets to get our news.

We’re looking to our journalists not just to tell us the facts, but to tell us what they mean and how to apply them to our lives.

We’re not looking necessarily for objective reporting.

But traditional newsrooms seem to be the base of all the reporting, objective, opinionated, or otherwise.

Even if you get your news from Yahoo or AOL, you’ll likely see those stories were written by the Associated Press or one of the major broadcast networks. Even Jon Stewart reads the day’s news wires before he does The Daily Show.

“Whoever owns them, old newsrooms now seem more likely than a few years ago to be the foundations for the newsrooms of the future,” says the study. But it also points out, and I quote: “the press is no longer gatekeeper over what the public knows.”

And so we see opinionated reporting, which was once the exclusive property of talk radio, spreading into cable news and even the mainstream press. On CNN, Anderson Cooper is certainly a fine reporter, but he’s obviously involved in the stories he reports. Here on ABC, Bob Woodruff has become an advocate for better medical care for America’s wounded war veterans. Many major newspapers now employ “public editors” whose job it is to listen to readers’ concerns and respond to them. And the networks now employ people whose job it is to read blogs and find newsworthy stories to report.

Compare that with the situation just a few years ago, when the late David Brinkley refused to even register to vote, lest people think he was taking an opinionated stand on the campaign.

We in the traditional media — and there’s no more traditional medium than Paul Harvey News — we still have our jobs to do.

We still have to find good and interesting stories and report them.

But the journey between our reporting and your receiving is increasingly likely to be influenced by commentators, bloggers, talk-radio hosts, and your own experience.

In the interest of full disclosure, I got the idea for this commentary from reporting in the Baltimore Sun.

But it’s been through a lot of filters between the Sun’s presses and your ears.

And that seems to be the way you like it.

– Fred Thompson is an actor and former United States senator from Tennessee.


Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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