Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings reportedly near death

Mediabistro (from last night):

11:50pm: NewsBlues has posted a one-line item: "ABC alerts affiliates to prepare for death of Peter Jennings."TVNewser heard this several hours ago, but hesitated to post it. An ABC spokesperson denied that affiliates were being informed that Jennings' condition had worsened.

Update: 11:55pm: "May God bless Peter and give him and his family strength during these very tough times," a TVSpyer says.

My brother once bumped into Jennings at a New York gym several years ago and indicated that Jennings was profoundly indifferent about meeting his public. I think it's safe for me to say that of the Big Three Anchormen of his time, Jennings was my least favorite, but not for any good reason. He just seemed a bit more smug about his work than did Brokaw or Rather (though Rather grew quickly into the role in later years). I don't mean to speak ill of the almost-dead; it's JMO. Jennings was an extremely capable newsman and related the news -- and his own opinions -- with frankness and without rancor. He may have been the best journalist among the three men.

But I speak in this case in favor of something that I actually despise, and that is personality-driven newscasts. See FOX News, naturally, for the worst examples of this. CNN has desperately tried to follow suit, and made matters much worse by attempting to create personalities where none exist. It's possible that the two vacant chairs at CBS and shortly ABC will be filled by more than one person (and hopefully someone without testicles, but that's a post I'll save for later).

More so than the passing of the torch at the other two Alphabets, this transition will be more difficult for ABC simply because it didn't come as a result of someone's retirement. Disney is considerably more attuned to promoting their brands than either Viacom or GE, so I would look for World News Tonight to morph into something akin to ESPN's SportsCenter.

I'm not sure this is a good thing.

Then again, I'm not sure the networks give enough of a damn about news anyway.

Update (8/8) : R.I.P.

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