Don Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes” and veteran TV-news guy, thinks that the way to entice viewers back to network news is to increase its proportion of opinion-based content. This is delusional thinking, given that
-Network news is already full of opinions. That’s part of why it has lost so many viewers.
-Making opinions explicit doesn’t insure an audience any more than starting a blog does. To gain viewers’ loyal attention (as opposed to merely riling them up and driving even more of them away), opinions have to be thoughtful and provide unique perspective. It’s not enough to be sincere, you have to add something to the public conversation if you want viewers to come back, and all of the good political bloggers and op-ed commentators know this. But does anyone think that the people who run network news are capable of doing it, given that many of them, like Hewitt, refuse to acknowledge that their networks’ biased, error-prone reporting is a large part of the problem?
-The Internet is awash in high-quality commentary, available from every ideological perspective and generally free. It’s difficult to make money selling something that a lot of other people are giving away.