Sunday, May 23, 2010

Straight Talk

Campbell Brown is resigning from her anchor position on CNN’s ‘Campbell Brown’ with dignity and integrity. She admits that she is stepping down from her position because of low ratings. She didn’t sugar coat the truth or try to blame anyone for her failure. Instead, she remained transparent about her reasons for leaving, and she did it beautifully.

Journalism constantly receives a bad rep for employing yellow journalism and spinning information. Through her statement, she defied that image. By being honest, she is directing bad press away from herself and CNN.

Brown wrote, "Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that line up is simply impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be; nor is it who CNN asked me to be at any point."

I admire her message in these sentences, because she is saying that she will not change herself or her show in order to reach desired ratings. She stuck to her “hard-news roots” and her value in “old-school journalism.” Nowadays, news tends to be entertaining in order to appeal to a mass audience. The entertainment aspect is reached by evoking sensationalism, which is not always newsworthy (sadly). So, a show could reach high ratings, but that does not mean it is delivering quality news. With that said, since rates do not always reflect quality content, should rates have a place in journalism?

The fact that her show was cut even though she provided real news and not downgraded news for an American audience reminds me of a speech given by Christiane Amanpour. In her speech, she talked about how war reporters were risking their lives to cover events, yet those stories were cut due to gate keeping and the need to sell news to an American audience. Brown was informative and objective, but her show is going to be removed, because she wants to present news and hard facts, not entertainment news filled with bias.

In my opinion, a show that presented quality news should not be cut. The same goes for any story.

Whether rating should matter or not doesn’t change the reality that it matters more than it should. News conglomerates want to see good results for their efforts, and they want to advance and develop. Without good ratings, a news company will lose their audience and never grow. Therefore, they will do just about anything to avoid low ratings. So, while Brown’s truthfulness doesn’t surprise me, neither does her resignation. We know how it works in business− you either leave, or they will probably fire you. I am just glad that Brown made an elegant exit full of straight talk.

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