CBS was once the epitome of journalistic integrity.
Its anchors and reporters were studied and admired by journalism students across the nation.
The familiar names of Murrow, Cronkite, Rather, Safer, Wallace, and so many more were once held in the most highest regard by listeners and viewers, as well as those in the industry.
Now that integrity is getting lost within a corporate conglomerate more interested in leveraging its financial assets than in the quality of the actual news product.
Case in point, the hype surrounding the book “The Secret”. The self-development best seller is published by Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster which, by the way, is owned by CBS. Atria recently announced it is printing and releasing several million more copies.
One of the people responsible for the writing and release of The Secret’s DVD appears on Oprah, which by the way is owned and produced by King World, another CBS property. Book sales begin to take off.
Another feature on The Secret later takes place on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
The next morning Charles Osgood, on the vast CBS Radio network, plays the TV news story almost verbatim on his show. Come on, can’t you at least re-write it a little bit.
Even 60 Minutes, once journalistic hallowed ground, produces features on subjects who have written books published by Simon and Schuster. They do, at least, identify at the end of their piece that the book discussed is printed by a property owned by CBS. Gosh, do you really believe the reporter is going to ask the subject any tough or potentially embarrassing questions when his or her boss has a few million dollars at stake?
This folly is a constant revolving door involving personalities with King World on a variety of CBS shows both news and entertainment. Entertainment Tonight, Hollywood’s “most watched news show” (if you call that news) and a CBS property, is quick to promote anything new on Oprah. Dr. Phil-another King World product is a regular on ET as is Rachel Ray, the newest member of the King World family. You may see them on the David Letterman show and anywhere else CBS can fit them in. Fine, but keep them out of the evening news.
As a small business owner I understand the need to make a profit. I understand the need for higher ratings and greater viewership. Promoting entertainment through the entertainment divison is one thing, mixing it with news is another.
Public Relations practitioners may have to get an existing CBS property as a client to have any chance of getting exposure on this one-eyed monster.
If CBS wants to present nothing more than a well-dressed infomercial on its news so be it.
You can call it “news”, or even “infotainment”, but please don’t call it journalism.