Monday, June 16

The Next Generation

A little political incorrectness here.

Back when I was starting at WABC 25 years ago, we had a ton of people on the staff. One of them was a kid named Dori Kam, one of the Eyewitness News production assistants.

A kid, as I said—but whip-smart, really nice, and cute as a pail of puppies (that’s the politically incorrect part). Just one of those people who lights up a room when she walks in. And no disrespect intended: she was as intelligent, as hard-working and as dedicated as any of us, and we were all intelligent, hard-working and dedicated. And she’d already been there for several years. As a newcomer I worked just as hard to win her respect as I did to win the respect of News Director Jim Topping, or anchors Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel.

In the years since, she got married—had two kids—and got divorced. She’s teaching school. Now comes word that one of her sons, Ari Cohen, is finishing work on his college degree with an internship—AT WABC!

I wrote her a note saying I had hoped for better for her son: I don’t know, drug dealer, mass murderer, politician. But broadcast news? What is the world coming to when the best and the brightest decide to squander their talents on TV journalism? Is the kid brain damaged? What kind of mother would allow her son to get into TV? Sounds like a case for "Children and Youth."

But—on the other hand—maybe there’s a chance for broadcast journalism yet. I just don’t think it will be on TV as we know it: TV and print are going away. As soon as HDTV-quality programming is available on-demand over some web link on your home entertainment center/computer, the end of TV stations and over-the-air will be at hand.

But people are still going to want news. That means someone is going to have to report it and shoot it and edit it and “air” it. Maybe Ari Cohen will be one of the “someones” who invents the “new” news business.

Still, for Dori it must be like sending your son off to war. Eyewitness News? As they say in Minnesota, uff da!

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