Essential Pittsburgh
12:13 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

What Does Dan Rather Think Of Journalism Today? Three Takeaways

Broadcast Journalist, Dan Rather, worked for CBS for 44 years, 24 of those years as the anchor for CBS Evening News.
Broadcast Journalist, Dan Rather, worked for CBS for 44 years, 24 of those years as the anchor for CBS Evening News.
Credit US Air Force / Wikipedia

Legendary broadcast journalist Dan Rather worked for CBS News for 44 years and anchored the CBS Evening News for 24 of those years.

He is now the managing editor and anchor of the cable television news magazine Dan Rather Reports. In 2012, he released a best-selling book on his life and the state of journalism today, Rather Outspoken.

Rather was particularly outspoken about the 3 ways he's seen standards drop in the craft of journalism:

1. Trivialization of the News

"Why have we reached this point?" Said Rather "It is the public itself that has shown if you want to put the Kardashians on, just to take one example, you may get more viewers, you may get more listeners, you may get more readers than if you discuss whether or not we should stay in Afghanistan after the length of time we've been there. And if we so, at what level?"

2. Politicization of the News

"Big government, in the form of the Bush White House at the time, didn't like a true story that was reported and they sought to have the network get rid of the people who were responsible for the story," Rather notes, in reference to his dismissal from the CBS Evening News  "And the network because it has so many things it needs in Washington, it needs laws passed and laws stopped before they get passed, it needs regulatory aid.  The corporation needs things out of the power of Washington and it was easier for them to fire and let go the people responsible for the story than it was to back the story."

3. Corporatization of the News

"Corporations don't like trouble they don't like controversy they want to make money. There's nothing wrong with that but they don't see news as a public trust, they don't see news as a public service, they see it only as a moneymaking apparatus and because of that they don't like controversy and they don't like reporters who cause controversy."

Rather finds that responsibility ultimately falls on the shoulders of one group.

"In the end it gets down to our responsibility as journalists. For those of us in journalism, we've gotten a little too comfortable, a little too far from what is the true best purpose of quality journalism and integrity. Which is to play no favorites, and don't bend for anybody and to operate news as a public service, not in our own interest or in the interest of some corporate entity."

Next week, Rather will be appearing at Heinz Hall as part of the Pittsburgh Speakers Series presented by Robert Morris University.