Commentary

Great Newsmen's Passing Highlights Importance Of Storytelling

With Don Hewitt and Walter Cronkite now gone, many will say that something of real TV news journalism has been lost. But look around -- there is still hope.

Critics have dissed the lack of journalism in modern media for good reason. Instead of news, we get opinions and perspective on the news, from bloggers, and columnists (like your truly) -- on TV, online, on a rant.

Nothing is wrong with opinions. You just need good facts to work off of.  Cronkite didn't mix the two - except perhaps for that split second when he took off his glasses and looked at the clock when telling of JFK's assassination, slightly grimacing after putting his glasses back on.

Opinions mean a lot to TV viewers -- as evidenced by the higher-than-ever-before ratings now garnered by Fox News Channel.

Meanwhile, other TV news operations are producing more straight-ahead news stories with lower levels of editorializing -- for example, Current TV. That young-skewing news network offers up unusual stories, such as one on toxic, technology-dumping villages in China.

Even the TV press can take a wrong turn while covering itself. While we get a lot of perspective about the two formerly imprisoned Current TV reporters in North Korea, we didn't hear much about the job they were trying to do -- uncovering news/content that is typically closed off to most of the world.

Media organizations will let you know content is king -- but you need to find the right content to lead the kingdom.

Hewitt would say that what viewers really wanted  -- especially when it came to his iconic "60 Minutes" CBS show -- was good "storytelling." It's amazing that after four decades on the air, that's what viewers still want out of "60 Minutes," and why CBS still keeps it going.

Good storytelling also shows up in ABC's "Nightline" -- which, in the transition of Leno to O'Brien at "The Tonight Show," has sometimes led in overall TV viewers for late-night time periods.

The winning ingredient here is storytelling -- not just an opinion about the story.

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