Dan Rather has covered almost everything across the journalism spectrum, including reporting from war zones in Vietnam and Afghanistan.
But today, Rather thinks his industry has lost its guts, he tells the Toronto Star.
Now, so often covering international news is, “Put four people in a room and have them shout at one another.” Take Afghanistan, for example. Coverage has disappeared from many newspapers and television programs, as if nobody wants to hear about it. But if Afghanistan is to be “covered,” networks put two or three people up on the screen to spout off their opinions about it. And very often none of the three has been to Afghanistan. I think journalists and journalism — certainly in the U.S. — we lost our guts. An attitude got around: Be careful, because if you report something people in power don’t like, you may have to pay a very heavy price for that. That’s not in the best tradition of U.S. journalism, nor do I think it’s in the best tradition of the free press anyplace.
Greta Van Susteren has a different take, taking to GretaWire to counter Rather’s claim, suggesting it’s lower travel budgets—not a loss of guts—that has kept more journalists from reporting in the trenches.
It isn’t a loss of “guts” that has had an impact on journalism — it is that so few journalists travel. It isn’t guts that limits the travel (and thus the stories we cover) – it is the economy. Many journalists in many news organizations have guts — and our track records prove it. The fact is that travel budgets across all news organizations have been curtailed because the economy has been rough for everybody, including news organizations.
The “On the Record” anchor goes on to praise Fox News, who she says has “spent a fortune” on her show by sending her to Afghanistan, North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, Haiti, a Mexican prison, Paris, London, and elsewhere.