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Monday, August 08, 2005

Jennings' Death Ushers in Uncertain Era

Does Peter Jennings' tragic death also signal the death of evening news? The AP has a story on the future of the medium and what may need to happen if nightly news is to remain a viable player in the digital age.

For more than 20 years, many American television viewers learned the day's news at the dinner hour from either Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw and CBS's Dan Rather — covering the Reagan era, communism's fall, O.J. Simpson and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The triumvirate held steady as the world of news changed around them, driven by the spread of cable and the Internet. Today, people can get news headlines simply by flipping open their cell phones.

Brokaw, 65, retired from the "Nightly News" in November, and Rather, 73, signed off in March. With Jennings gone, the days of name-brand anchors serving as the public face of their news networks may be disappearing as well.

I personally think the medium was dealt the final blow late last year with Dan Rather's false-document debacle that tried and failed to bring down a president. With that one stubbornly defended coup, the nightly news drifted quickly into irrelevancy.

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