"In the old days, he who had the news footage ruled the universe, and the only people who had it were the 3 networks," Lawrence Grossman of 'NBC News' recalled. Those were the days when an average of 7 in 10 homes watching television tuned into one of the 3 prime information outlets each night to see the big news stories of the day. "We are constantly reassessing what is the definition of a network evening news program. We want our yesterdays to be our tomorrows in terms of our news tradition, of course. But we have to be alert to change." Dan Rather made the point. "First and foremost we're a summary of the day's most important events."

On reflection, Art Chapman of 'Fort Worth Star-Telegram' remarked, "Television, to a really interested viewer, is sometimes like a thunderstorm to the parched Earth. The moisture is craved, but the rain comes so hard and fast that it runs off rather than soaks in. Granted, television isn’t often like that. OK, it’s seldom like that. Most of the information we get was runoff to begin with and has no retention value."

However, "television is immediate. That’s its strength – but that is also its weakness. It’s here now, but gone in seconds. You can’t turn back the page to get what you missed. There are no notes, no indexes, no permanent written record of what you just saw. At least there didn't use to be. Now, it seems, people are finding that television makes good reading."

Of the era of network news anchors setting the agenda and who presence could command up to 11 ratings points, Dan Rather insisted, "This (reporting) is what I think God put me on this Earth to do. I'm not sure anchoring is." Fred Friendly of 'CBS News' conceded, "It's a great lesson in tunnel vision." Bruce Hamilton offered, "Being an anchor means being aware of the political scene, of the issues. It means knowing what’s really happening in the community. I want to be involved in every aspect of the news-gathering process, from the news meetings to the reporting."

Tom Brokaw observed, "This business, like society, is changing." By the 1990s, economics had forced news to become more market driven as it faced with the pressures of reaching the largest possible audience. "The business has become much more a bottom-line business, rather than a public-service business," Barbara Wilkinson made known.

Walter Cronkite reasoned, "It seems to me the future is somewhere between what we have now and what we see on CNN. But the networks will definitely have to have people like Rather, Brokaw and (Peter) Jennings on their staffs because when big stories are breaking you need people who ... know where to go for the story." Andrew Heyward of 'CBS News' added, "Historically, the evening news anchors have become the embodiments not just of their broadcasts but signature personalities of their networks. I suspect that the next generation will have a tougher time attaining that God-like status. The era of the totally dominant anchor probably is going to change."

"You have to recognize reality, that when an anchorman goes to a story it is a clear message to the viewer that this is considered a priority story, an important story, and there's nothing wrong with that," Timothy Russert of 'NBC News' believed. Dan Rather maintained, "We make a consistent effort to deal with the important new stories every day." Tom Brokaw mentioned, "We cover the day's big stories; we've broken a number of stories ... But we have a richer mix of stories that are relevant to people's lives."

Andre Tyndall made the observation, "CBS has the most traditional, hard-news broadcast among the 3 programs. NBC is the most feature-oriented and ABC has been alternating between the two approaches." Bill Wheatley of 'NBC News' expressed, "We cover the news of the day, but we think it's also important to give people stories that have relevance in their lives."

The verbal nature of the story was said prompted different strategies for deploying network anchors. For instance Dan Rather could be on the scene with a sub-anchor sitting in while Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings remained in the studios to conduct on-air interviews. Marvin Kalb made the comment, "People who watch the news regularly will come to understand a story is not really that important any longer unless the anchor is present. I have a feeling that the networks are on a roller coaster that they will find it very difficult to get off."

Walter Cronkite argued, "The tragedy is, we aren’t educated to any degree. Education levels are so low that the public does not have a capability of making an informed judgment … I have believed all of my life, practically, and even in the face of a lot of contrary evidence, that this country is great and it has continuing potential to be the real model of democracy that we've always thought it would be … But I'm getting less and less certain that that’s the way it’s going to be."

Steve Barkin clarified, "Journalism has its roots in the art of narrative. Television news is a form of visual storytelling that follows the guidelines of plot, character development and the attainment of dramatic unity. TV news by definition entertains us as it offers dramatically compelling portrayals of reality that engage our senses as well as our intellects. Long ago, the distinction between 'news' and 'entertainment' became practically impossible to make."

Walter Cronkite stated, "The Internet and programming on demand and all the rest of the new high-tech stuff are all bound to depend on pictures and words, and thus, except perhaps with respect to means of delivery, they will resemble the television of my time. And what great stories we reporters in the new media are going to have to tell."

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