By CRAIG MEDRED
Leave it to the venerable Associated Press to arrive late to one of the most disturbing trends of these times – the deconstruction and reshaping of the business of news – and then to somehow get the history wrong and some of the context as well.
“In a chaotic media landscape, with traditional guideposts stripped away by technology and new business models, the old lines between journalism and commentary are growing ever fuzzier,” the AP reported last week in a story with a very rose-colored view of the past.
The fuzziness is not new.
Take it from the late Walter Cronkite of CBS Evening News, the television anchor once branded the “most trusted man in America”:
“Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout but neither did we….
“To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion….It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
One couldn’t get much deeper into the blend of journalism and commentary than to suggest how the country should end a war.
But then journalism has always been deep into opinion in its many forms: the “New Journalism” of the 1960s and 70s with it “subjective perspective,” the news analysis that followed, and the rise of “interpretative journalism” that eventually culminated in the Pulitzer Prize competition adding a category for “explanatory journalism” in 1985.