Edward R. Murrow once described television as "the biggest classroom in the world." Tom Brokaw observed, "At 6:30 every night, wherever you are, you're handcuffed to the evening news." At one time 38 million viewers learned the news of the day each night during dinner time from 3 middle-aged men - Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. The news flagships were "a broadcast of record, an edited version of the day."

In 22 minutes, the 3 anchors tried to interpret, give broader background of the major stories of the day and put into context for the audience, explaining what the news meant. Tom continued, "Certainly, there are more pluses than there are minuses. I’ve had a front row seat to the history of my time. People watch news because of the people who give them the news." One news producer remarked, "I don't think they are an endangered species."

"During a national trauma, a Dan Rather or a Walter Cronkite are soothing, and they help us process our grief," therapist Michael Katch maintained. "(With bad news) the first reaction is shock and denial, but if there’s somebody calm and soothing who has credibility, it helps to process the tragedy and accept it." Van Gordon Sauter added, "Television provides immediacy, reliable information and sorrow. But, in a peculiar way, as a nation, we're comforted that the information still is flowing, and that we’re finding out what’s happened. In times (of tragedies), the anchorperson is the linkage, the lifeline for the nation."

"It’s a much more information-intensive society," Tom Brokaw recognized. "The biggest challenge for everyone is keeping the audience. We have to do better with the numbers. We have to hit all the markers." The 25-to-54 demographic in 1994, David Poltrack reminded, "that's the long-term news-viewing audience of the future." However Reuven Frank of 'NBC News' pointed out, "This nightly news ratings race isn’t a sprint, it’s a 10-year marathon.

"If we were to determine success or failure on the basis of an anchor team's first few months on the job, then Chet Huntley and David Brinkley would have been sacked by early 1957. It took quite awhile for the audience to start gravitating toward them. But once they did, 'Huntley-Brinkley' was No. 1 for more than a decade." Timothy Russert of 'NBC News' reiterated, "This is a marathon, not a sprint."

Tom Brokaw believed the nightly news "will become much less a diary of the day's events and more a kind of analysis of what has happened and why. The story count will be smaller." Dan Rather stated, "When there's a big story, I want to go … to the cutting edge of a story." Howard Rosenberg remarked television was like a portable stage, performing remarkably in beaming the world into people’s homes and providing Americans box seats to the kind of historic political turnabout that usually unfolded outside people's view.

Walter Cronkite made the observation in 1997, "It's ironic that at the precise moment of history when Americans need better understanding of international affairs that less attention is being paid. The idea of spending less because either people aren't interested or they don’t have the budget to do it is a total abdication of responsibility. They (the networks) have a responsibility to present as much information as possible on all the corners of the world that could possibly affect the United States. And in this global world and in a global economy, that’s everywhere."

Bill Wheatley of 'NBC News' begged to differ, "A lot of foreign news after the Cold War seemed to be less vital … more complicated, less directly linked to many Americans. How do you cover the former Soviet Union and make sense of it? Look at the challenge we had in Bosnia – continue to have in Bosnia. Your inability to sort out the spheres of interest, who the players are and relate that to the average American – it’s very difficult. It may be that we shied away from some of that just because it is so hard."

Erik Sorenson of 'CBS News' told members of the Television Critics Association in July 1993, "What the 2-anchor configuration gave us was a chance to take a big gamble. It helps us to get where the news is, fast and first. Six months ago (in January 1993), we might not have taken this chance. The other problem with anchors traveling, it does have a tendency to tilt the news to that story. We might have missed big news from Sarajevo that day."

Andrew Heyward of 'CBS News' reasoned, "It's just a fact of television ratings life that almost without exception it's very difficult to score a number with international news. Not everything we do can be about ratings. If we abandon international news coverage, no one is going to do it. And I would argue that even commercially there’s a reason to stay in the business – even if it is expensive."

"God knows," Paul Friedman of 'ABC News' mentioned, "we’ve got a lot of people at this news division who could put on a lot of foreign news. But people wouldn’t watch it." Tom Brokaw made the point, "We cover the news – what’s going on out there. This is a very flat time in the world right now. There’s no story anywhere in the world that is demanding that it get on the air." Dan Rather expressed, "In our corner of the world we believe that the evening news is very important to the nation." In television as in politics, "overnight is a long time and a week is forever."

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