Edward R. Murrow just rolled over…

CBS News | News is out … Entertainment Rules
From Wired.com via Reuters:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit crime drama with a special report on the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a network source said on Friday.

For more, read on …

Word of the dismissal came a day after CBS apologized to viewers for breaking into “CSI: NY,” one of its top-rated shows, on Wednesday night.

“An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error,” the network said in a statement on Thursday.

The network, owned by Viacom Inc., declined comment on a report of the dismissal posted on the Web site of trade publication Broadcasting & Cable.

But a network source told Reuters that CBS fired the producer who decided to break into “CSI” with a report from “Up to the Minute” anchor Melissa McDermott.

According to the source, the producer failed to follow standard procedures that require a senior CBS News executive to be consulted before interrupting regular programming.

And the WashingtonPost.com has the reason it occured:

“An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error,” the network said yesterday in a statement.

If this doesn’t scream that CBS has given up on news, nothing does. Broadcast network news is in intensive care and won’t likely recover. Cable news rules on breaking stories. I know, it has been there for a long time now, but this disaster at CBS just seals the deal.

I’ve read several books about Murrow (and Cronkite) so, perhaps I’m taking this harder than most. This incident (just like Dan Rather’s ‘memogate’) is so counter to the tradition of excellence at CBS … well, it is just disgusting.

CBS should have broken into the broadcast – or at least done a ‘crawl’ across the bottom of the screen. The idea that a “senior CBS News executive” had to be consulted (and likely would have said ‘no’) is so sad. At most they should have disciplined – not fired – that producer!

Arafat (for all his evil and vile deeds) was a world leader in the one area of the world that is at the heart of our present foriegn affairs concerns.

Your CSI experience was spoiled? Tough —-! Poor babies! And for CBS … is money always the main concern? This wasn’t some ‘Heidi’ fluke. This is a dramatic world event. The world is at war and this man’s death may have dramatic repercussions.

Good Lord! I wish CBS was a subscription service. I’d cancel it.


4 thoughts on “Edward R. Murrow just rolled over…

  1. Jeremy


    You’re being too idealistic. The bread and butter for any network is entertainment, and the news producer stupidly broke into the cliffhanger of the top rated show on CBS. She was overzealous, particularly since the announcement of Arafat’s death came at the end of a week of speculation that he’d been dead the whole time.

    Now, if the CBS producer had broken in to announced that the father of modern terrorism had died, instead of couching it as a hero’s death, well, that’d have been newsworthy for her firing.

  2. Robert

    Idealistic? Yes. More specifically – ‘unrealistic’ in this day of changing media roles.

    I didn’t see the news break, so I can’t speak to the manner in which it was done – re: “hero’s death”. I get your point, though. That would have started a firestorm.

    As for the break in, the producer would have been wise to do a crawl instead of the break. I’ll grant you that. Still, even today, access to cable news is not universal. Broadcast news is the closest thing to it.

    Given that the break in occured near the end of the program, the producer could have waited. Would it have changed anything had the producer waited another 5 minutes to let it go to local news? No.

    It is that sticky old school ‘principle’ thing. I guess I just don’t want to let go of the past of network news.

  3. Jeremy

    Sounds like she was a very hyper junior newsroom person, who jumped the gun and thought she would get praises, instead of forcing CBS to issue an apology to its viewers.

    The real issue is by the time the PA finally admitted he was dead, it was a non-story. That’s the reason it didn’t deserve a live break-in.

  4. Robert

    If that’s the case, then I can understand the firing.

    I still want the ‘crawl’, though. 😆

    There was a time when the networks looked at this very differently. She would have received praise – even if violating policy.

    That’s the point, I guess. There ‘was’ a time.

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