Lisa Myers: TV journalism deteriorating

Lisa Myers sounds like me. She is also a former network news investigative journalist. She left her longtime job at NBC about the time I left my longtime job at CBS. To me, it is interesting that some of our experiences and thoughts are so similar. I expressed many of mine in Stonewalled.

From an interview with Myers for an article in the Des Moines Register in advance of a lecture she planned to give in Iowa:lisa_myers_twitter_icon

Q: What is the state of TV journalism today?

Lisa Myers: I am going to talk about the deterioration in the quality of journalism you see on TV. I think the primary mission of journalism is to hold the powerful accountable, be they in government or corporate America. There is less and less interest in network television today holding the White House or any other part of government accountable. I fear there is a calculation that the audiences they are trying to reach don’t care that much about the serious news. I think most of the political coverage these days has all the depth of Twitter.

I also worry that journalists today appear to have chosen sides when it comes to political coverage. I think you see that in the sagging approval numbers of TV news over the last few years. We’ve seen trust in the media hit its lowest level ever in 2013 or 2014 surveys and I think the lack of depth and the feeling that too many journalists have chosen sides has caused viewers to question whether we are giving it to them straight and whether we are making a politically balanced presentation.

Q: Do you believe there is a place for entertainment journalism on TV?

Of course, but you do not see the kind of in-depth substantive policy pieces or investigations nearly as often as you used to. The stories get shorter and shorter and the sound bites get shorter and shorter. Look, there is a place for celebrity news, for feel good stories, all those things have a legitimate place in various newscasts, but it should not always be at the expense of the more-in-depth stories or investigations that networks used to. I am speaking industry-wide, not speaking about any specific network.

Q: What advice do you give college-age journalists?

I would say two things: Learn to write whether you are going to do newspapers or television, and be politically objective and balanced. Also, if you get a chance to be on the debate team or do something that involves making public presentations and speaking and thinking on your feet, that can be a tremendous asset.

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