I caught some of the Tim Russert Memorial on TV while on the stairmaster at the gym. Never seen such self referential nostalgia before– the mainstream press bidding itself adieu.
On stage were Mike Barnacle, Brian Williams, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and while watching the touching remarks, i couldn’t help but notice folks also saying goodbye to an anachronistic brand of television news reporting that is network based, and centered around evening and sunday morning broadcasts, in other words, old school traditional network reporting. not so much a good bye to the “old fashioned news reporter–think eric severeid and walter cronkite, who departed from the scene long ago, but a farewell to a genre that has focused too much on an anachronistic network based talking heads who followed the classic ‘good ole days,’ where never quite as good as that “greatest generation,” and whose days are now also numbered.
In the midst of this transformative election campaign, Russert’s passing, tragic to be sure, also marks this transformation in media. from tv to internet, from 24/7 bottom down to everywhere and always bottom up. It is a changing of the guard from the Russerts, Barnacles, Brokaws, Gibsons to a new guard of reporting represented by Rachel Maddow, Talking Points Memo, firedoglake and others who are combining inside access with citizen journalism and critical perspectives. The new media is also re-introducing the idea that that the media is not to be considered an elite insiders game, but rather that in a democracy, we all have a responsibility to stay abreast of events, report and analyze them.
This post modern public sphere bodes well for the new Obama era.