The ratings of some of the major evening newsmags have suffered a dramatic drop:
Another Jackson trial, a visit from ‘Desperate’ housewife Teri Hatcher and a truly gory report on faith healer John of God were among the offerings on ABC’s ‘Primetime Live’ this season — under normal circumstances, a lineup that could be expected to bring big ratings.
But ‘Primetime,’ once a top 10 hit, is down a whopping 22% from its so-so performance last year, despite a much-hyped revamp and the rising fortunes of the Alphabet web. Friday-night staple ’20/20,’ in its first season sans Barbara Walters, is also down double digits.
So what gives? The “a-list” bloggers will be quick to identify this as another sign of what is the inevitable doom of mainstream media. I don’t think that’s it.
This morning, I watched the news at the top of the hour on one of the major 24 hour news channels (MSNBC or CNN, not sure which or whether that matters). Story number one? The Bush meeting with Nato leaders, right? Wrong. The first story was a press conference about an abduction in Texas and the second story was a live shot of Michael Jackson entering the court for the another day of jury deliberations.
So where does that leave newsmags? Their turf has been infringed upon.
And it’s not just the other news offerings. Much of reality television mirrors the offerings of Dateline and Primetime (only with even less self-restraint and even less production money required). Call it crap imitating life.
Or maybe we, as a society, have finally moved beyong this sophomoric version of dumbed-down and meaningless news and we are ready to demand more from our networks.