Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Anchors Away: The big networks losing big names and big influence

Dan Rather announces just before Thanksgiving that he will relinquish the CBS anchor chair in March, on the anniversary of the day he assumed that position from Walter Cronkite 24 years ago. Over at NBC, Tom Brokaw will step aside in a couple of weeks, although his retirement date was decided a while back.

There is an earthquake rumbling through broadcast network news, with only Peter Jennings at ABC remaining in a Big Three anchor chair. It has been more than 20 years since even one of these positions has been open, and now in a space of only a few months we are about to see changes in two of them. In the world of broadcast TV news, it just doesn’t get much bigger than this.

Network anchor jobs are a rare thing on the Help Wanted page. Dan Rather took over at CBS in 1981, and Brokaw and Jennings assumed their positions in 1983.

Who is going to take Rather’s place? No one knows for sure, although a couple of not-so-well-known reporters’ names are floating around. Brokaw’s replacement has been known, it seems, for years, with Brian Williams expected and expecting to assume the anchor position.

But how big is this, really?

The truth is that it just doesn’t matter who gets these jobs.

In fact, I suggest that the two worst places to send your resume are for the NBC and CBS anchor positions. Think about it: How would you like to be the guy people remember when the Big Networks lose the rest of their shimmer and shine?

As the Big Three become less important, less influential, less relevant, it matters less and less who sits in the anchor chair. And in fact if you happen to be those poor slobs when the drain opens and the ratings go completely down, your career is over.


Rebecca DeVendra said...

Ha HA yea I see what you mean. "Im the anchor taking over for Dan Rather and I promise to be worse than he was!"

These liberal anchors are sinking to the bottom of the sea of lies. (XD sorry I thought that was clever.)

Huston said...

I think it is interesting that the state television stations in the Ukraine have revolted against the government. i think the broadcast networks, newspapers and weekly's in this country could learn a thing or two from them. What would it take for the US media to finally revolt against the Democratic Party? Probably the rise of a new media (talk radio and the blogosphere) gutting their influence and threatening their livelihoods.

Considering the fact that network news anchors have acted as a mouth piece for one political party for as long as TV news has existed, I think they should have term limits! Whoever replaces Blather should be allowed to serve the Democratic Party in the anchor chair for CBS for no longer than two years.

Wait, scratch that. The knowledge that they could only serve two years woul simply embolden them to be more radical. Hmmm. The laws of capitalism always seem to win!

By the way James I like your new format. Very nice.