The rise of blogs and other forms of news handling has been mentioned as the cause of the decline of network news. That’s undoubtedly true.
Those with longer memories might argue that the direction of Network News made a distinctive course adjustment some years ago, before blogs appeared on the horizon. It happened when networks decided their news departments should shift from public service to income generator, and thereby provoked a fight between the news folks and the management of at least one major network. The new business model held the news department responsible for generating income.
Thus began the search for style and ultimately content that could attract the audience advertisers would pay to reach. It has now reached the stage where print and broadcast news items are followed by calls for feedback from readers and viewers and asking “how you feel” about each item reported. Responders are often asked for some personal details, including age and gender. The responses are tallied to show which stories provoked the most responses, and often listed on their web sites.
If it walks like a poll and talks like a poll, it must be a poll.
Armed with this poll data, collected at minimal cost from their willing audience, the news folks can be on the prowl for other stories that will attract viewers and readers and keep up the audience numbers to sustain the advertising rates.
The term “public interest” is still in the vocabulary, but not often heard in the board room, or so it seems.