Wednesday, January 02, 2008

John Hockenberry Rips Network TV

John Hockenberry has had a long and distinguished career in journalism, so when he ripped his former employer "Dateline" and network TV journalism in general, people sat up and took notice.

Hockenberry's comments, which came in a lengthy article in Technology Review (published by MIT), took NBC and other networks to task for a variety of complaints that will be familiar to any TV viewer, including a focus on heart-tugging stories and an obsession with irrelevant stories that will attract viewers (and advertising). "News producers," Hockenberry writes, "rarely ventured out of a safety zone of crime, celebrity, and character-driven tragedy yarns."

The article is entitled "'You Don't Understand Our Audience:' What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC."

John Hockenberry was fired from NBC after 12 years in a downsizing, so it might be tempting to dismiss his article as sour grapes. But he's long been a thoughtful and knowledgeable journalist who really cares about journalism.

John Hockenberry now works for MIT's Media Labs and has been doing commentaries for a radio series on the mind called "The Infinite Mind." Late last year he was named as co-host for a public radio morning show to be co-produced by Public Radio International and New York public radio station WNYC and editorial partners including the BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston. That show is to begin airing sometime in early 2008.

Read the article and see what you think.

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