Declining ratings for their evening news program has reportedly led CBS to turn decisions about the show's format and content over to a group of 20-something interns. Said Ed Asner, CEO of CBS, "Jennings is dead, Republicans hate Rather, and Cronkite is too pissy." The interns recommended a new, Survivor format for news anchors. Every week viewers can vote to banish a news reporter off to 60 Minutes, 48 hours, or some other pseudo-news program. The one who's left will be our new anchor."
"Let's face it. TV news has gone stale. How many stories about rising gas prices or mass murderers do viewers want to see? Most people would rather be entertained than informed, so we're "dumbing down" the news. Think "theSpoof!.com" but in a television format. You get a hint of what's actually going on in the world, and a good laugh now and then. For most people, that's plenty of information.
According to Asner, "We let John Roberts try anything he wanted, like taking off his tie, taking off his socks, walking around with no pants, delivering the news standing-up," yet the ratings kept going down. We finally figured it out; people don't dislike John, they're just tired of bad news. When they flip on the TV, they want to get AWAY from their problems, not hear about people getting thrown overboard tied to their boat anchor or working out so they can strangle innocent kids faster and better."
CBS interns recommended other changes, such as mini-skirted reporters seated at see-under tables, as seen on "Sin Fronteras" and other Hispanic news channels. "Think ' Sharon Stone' in Basic Instinct said Asner. "Don't worry," he quickly added, Leslie Stahl won't be one of them" said Asner." We're bringing in younger, fresher, ahh, faces to appeal to a younger audience.
New "news" segments will include Celebrity x-ups, including exclusive video of "Jude and the Nanny" and the Cruise versus Shields celebrity boxing match, sponsored by Pfizer. "Hot and black" with Hugh Grant will discuss how he likes his coffee. Says Asner, "Anything you see on the cover of magazines at the grocery store checkout line is fair game for our NEW news format. Including aliens."
Appealing to younger audiences , the "holy grail" of marketeers, means viewers with Playstations or X-boxes will be able to interact with newsclips and drive their own cars in helicopter videos of police chases, etc. "This is NEWStainment", said Asner. We produce and deliver the news to sell ads, not to inform, educate, or entertain an American public that is sick to death of bad news.