Kurtz: “An Uphill Battle In This Crowded Media Marketplace”

By Chris Ariens 

Howard Kurtz did his first TV interview (his first print interview can be read here) for his new book Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War. Kurtz sat down with Chris Cuomo on GMA. The two did not get into the insider details of the book, the excerpts of which can be read here and here.

Instead, Kurtz and Cuomo talked about the current state of the big three newscasts and their future. “[T]he nightly newscasts are better than ever but not good enough in the age of a million media choices,” Kurtz said. “They’re like the old Detroit gas guzzlers with the tail fins, constantly talking about back pain and menopause, hormone therapy. Younger people are being driven away.”

Kurtz’ solution? “Somebody ought to have the nerve to put on a newscast in prime time and try to draw more viewers.” For the broadcast networks, not likely.

Kurtz talked about the influence the big three still have on American society. “I believe these newscasts in 2005 and 2006 played the biggest role in helping to turn public opinion against the war.”

And then there’s the Jon Stewart factor. “What’s happening is people are copying his technique. When he did the bit about Hillary [Clinton] laughing. Well, that ended up on the CBS Evening News,” Kurtz said. “I think that there’s an effort to be a little more engaging by the anchors, and not just eating your peas.”

“They’re really important,” Kurtz said of the newscasts, but “they’ve got an uphill battle in this crowded media marketplace.”

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