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January 5, 2010

CBS Dumps Reporter for Actor: No News Here

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — Laurie Morrow, Ph.D. @ 4:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In yet another attempt to propel CBS News into oblivion, the once-great network has replaced the legendary voice of Walter Cronkite with that of actor Morgan Freeman.

Freeman is a terrific actor.  He has a wonderful, sonorous voice that’s a pleasure to listen to.

But he’s an actor. He’s not a newsman — much less a legendary newsman.

What CBS has tossed away casually is brand identity, something enormously difficult to build and near impossible to recapture, once lost.  CBS News’s brand identity once rested on credibility, which is what Cronkite delivered to his audience.  Cronkite did this so well that he ultimately transcended his day job, becoming  an emblem of serious, credible reporting.  Try as they might, no other network has produced a broadcast news person of equal stature and influence.  Cronkite set not the gold but the platinum standard for the business, endowing CBS News with a reputation other networks could only envy.

Rather than continue to exploit this amazing asset, however, CBS leadership has tossed it aside, like yesterday’s newspaper.

That they’ve replaced the voice of a reporter — someone who investigates events and crafts their presentation — with the voice of an actor — someone who reads  whatever script is handed him — summarizes nicely what’s gone amuk at CBS, and why audiences are turning elsewhere for information.


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