The declining role of the anchor

The passing of Peter Jennings (see the outstanding coverage at TVNewser) means more than just the end of a brilliant career; it’s another sign post on the road to media’s future. Better minds than mine will dissect all this in the weeks to come, but in less than a year, Tom, Dan, and now Peter are off the air, and the end of the network anchor-driven newsroom is at hand. I think the mourning of Peter Jennings takes on added weight in light of the end of an era.

As I wrote about two years ago, anchors are an endangered species. Unbundled bits of news is where we’re headed — bits that can be self-bundled at the other end of the distribution mechanism. And who has led the pre-bundling of TV news? The anchor.

I’m feeling sadness this morning, because I know that things will never be the same. While I’ve been prophesying this for quite awhile now, it’s one thing to talk about downstream, but it’s another thing to actually be there. I had this same feeling many months ago, when Sony announced they would cease production of picture tube television sets. I’m proud to have been a part of this era of media, but Jennings’ death is a message to everybody that we really need to turn the page.

RIP, Peter Jennings. Thanks for the memories.

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