Monday, June 27, 2005


The summer of 2001 was declared "summer of the shark" despite the fact that the number of shark attacks wasn't abnormal. Then a little tragic event happened and they shut the hell up about sharks for a little awhile.

Kurtz and Rather had this exchange around that time;

KURTZ: Do you think now that we are headed into an era of more serious and sober news, as opposed to you know, the devoting lots of air time to sharks and Tom and Nicole and stories of that kind, or, three months from now, six months from now, as this story ebbs and flows, will we slip back into covering mini-scandals and celebrities and some of the lighter fair in the news business?

RATHER: Well, it is a key question. I wish I had the answer to it, Howie. I hope, and I honestly do believe that for a long period now there will be rethink among American journalists, in particular those who have some television, about concentrating more on serious news.

But I've thought that any number of times before, for example, in the wake of the Gulf War, I thought there would be a re-emphasis on foreign coverage. There wasn't. I thought there would be a sort of return to our journalistic base camp of trying to report more about things that are important, perhaps at the expense of things that are interesting, like celebrity news.

And I was wrong then. So I am really reluctant to make a prediction. But I think, given the seriousness of what's happened here, that for at least the short and medium range future that there will be a re-emphasis on more serious news coverage. I certainly hope so.

KURTZ: It does have the feel of a major league wake up call. Given the very widespread and low opinion of the news business, particularly in the last 10 or 15 years, why do you think that in a recent Pew Research Poll, 89 percent gave positive marks for the media for their coverage of this tragedy over the last couple of weeks. Why the shift?

RATHER: I hope it's because the coverage was pretty good. Mind you, I think we deserved what we got in the preceding 10 or 15 years, and I do not exempt myself from that criticism. I think the public was right on point.

But when this story broke, I mean, what journalist could not say, man, this is really serious for my country, and for that matter, for the world, and I want to get out and do a really responsible job. And even those journalistic entities who had strayed very far from what I consider to be the best journalism pulled themselves together. So I think it must be that the public looked, and they listened, and even though we made mistakes, saw how hard we were trying and felt that we did a pretty good job.

CNN just spent 22 minutes at a live press conference about a shark attack.