‘Nightline’ fights back

Remember “Nightline”?

When Ted Koppel left the late-night news program in 2005, it was written off for dead. A news show, without the star power of its lead anchor, had no hope of competing against Leno and Letterman, or so went the conventional wisdom at the time.

But according to a story in the New York Times, the program is not only holding its own, it sometimes comes out on top.

Granted, a lot of those ratings can be attributed to coverage of the death of a certain pop singer, but the executive producer also notes that the program beat the talk shows with a show about Afghanistan and an interview with President Obama.

“Nightline” is not exactly Charlie Rose. It’s not even “60 Minutes.” But amid such topics as “Does Satan exist? Debating the Devil” and “Hookers for Jesus preach to unlikely flock” you’ll find segments on consumer protection, endangered species and the Iranian election.

A common refrain is that with all the Internets and the Tweeters and whutnot, we’ve become so preoccupied with pop culture that we’re no longer in touch with important issues (as opposed to a generation ago, when people ignored such temptations as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Laugh-In” and instead gathered the family around the woodstove to recite the speeches of Abraham Lincoln). So on one hand, the fact that people are switching off Letterman and turning to the news instead is a Good Thing. But one could also argue that TV “magazine” shows give short shrift to serious issues in favor of slick, candy-coated segments designed to draw an audience, and that we end up less informed as a result.

But in the end, can the fact that one of the major networks still sees journalism as one of its top contenders be anything but positive?

  • bsimon

    “But in the end, can the fact that one of the major networks still sees journalism as one of its top contenders be anything but positive?”

    Sure. Then I see the post on a You Tube video generated 13 comments. By this time tomorrow, will this post have more than one or two?

  • kennedy

    Most of the time, I watch the BBC news on TPT rather than local news at 10pm.

    The 30 minute time slot for local news has commercials, weather, sports, and frequent Hollywood news filling up most of the time. This formula must draw viewers and sell advertising or it wouldn’t be that way. It barely leaves time to mention world events, never mind in-depth reporting.

  • JackU

    One thing to remember is that Nightline was born out of “crisis journalism” as “America held Hostage”. During the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980.

    Also the references to “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Laugh-In” are the wrong time frame. Nightline comes along in the era of “Dallas”, “The Love Boat” and “Little House of the Prairie”. Prime time was headed down hill and late night was Carson, and only Carson.