CBS News anchor likes
By Anton Vidgen
London-born CBS News anchor and correspondent Thalia Assuras
returned to her alma mater yesterday to deliver a lecture entitled
Television Network News — Under Siege.
“I believe in some ways we’re in serious trouble
in the news industry,” Assuras said. “The bottom
line is that the network news audience is shrinking,” she
added. “The numbers tell very distressing stories.”
As a weekend news anchor for CBS, Assuras said over the years,
audience levels have dropped to considerably low levels, from
70 per cent in the ’70s down to only 43 per cent in 2002.
As a result, Assuras said, this has severely restricted the
ability to cover the news because of a lack of funds, which
lead to layoffs.
She said the grandfathers of broadcast news networks — CBS,
NBC and ABC — are threatened by cable news networks such
as FOX and CNN as well as from new technologies and an abundance
of channels. “It does not take a rocket scientist to
draw the conclusion that broadcast networks are in trouble.”
Assuras also said news coverage today is increasingly focused
on crime, “news you can use” and entertainment.
This “softening” of the news is what Assuras said
is troubling for society. “Newscasts are no longer all
that much about news.”
When asked if she agreed with filmmaker Michael Moore’s
opinion that American news is creating a climate of fear, Assuras
said “I think he has somewhat of a point,” but
said the media was not intentionally creating that climate. “I
think in some ways that can’t be helped.”
On the Bush administration, Assuras said they are highly adept
at controlling the news. “When this administration wants
to keep something quiet, they do extraordinarily well,” she
said. “When you ask the wrong questions, you get stonewalled.”
Assuras also took issue with the highly-rated FOX news network
and said they often present opinion as fact. “Don’t
believe everything you hear on television,” she said.
However, she denied the existence of a right-wing media conspiracy
in the United States, when questioned by a member of the audience.
“She’s a good speaker, but she’s a bit short-sighted
about the amount of political bias in American news,” said
Doug Mann, a part-time media and information technology teacher.
Richard Gilmore, a staff member in the media section in Althouse
College, said it was nice to hear his thoughts on the American
media confirmed by Assuras. “It was good to hear someone
not toeing the line.”