Exploring the end of an era

Many of us were pleasantly stunned last month in New York when CBS News president Andrew Heyward told a group of observers and mainstream media execs that network television news needed to be reinvented. He spoke of tired formulas, getting off the pedestal of omniscience and rejecting the notion of objectivity.

Heyward continued the discussion with Jay Rosen, which has led to a must-read PressThink column wherein Heyward himself expands upon the ideas. I think this is a watershed moment in the evolution of professional journalism, and I encourage you to take the time to read it (and not just because I’m in it). Here’s Heyward:

We have to abandon any claim to omniscience. Walter Cronkite used to end his broadcast with “That’s the way it is.” Dan Rather pulled that back, appropriately, to “That’s part of our world tonight.” The digital journalist, if he or she were being honest, would say something like “That’s some of what we did our best to find out today.”

…We have to figure out a way to incorporate point of view, even while protecting the notion of fair-minded journalism dedicated to accurate reporting without fear or favor.

…We have to break down the tired formulas of television news and find a more authentic way of writing, speaking, and interacting with the people and subjects we report on.

The proof, of course, will be in the new CBS News pudding. Stay tuned, because the second day lead is always reaction.

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