According to the New York Times :
Over the last decade, CNN has held intermittent talks with both ABC News and CBS News about various joint ventures. But during the last several months, talks with CBS have been revived and lately intensified, according to the executives who asked for anonymity because of the confidential nature of the negotiations.
So, why would one of the biggest and at one time the most respected news organizations in the world dismantle their back-end infrastructure? Let’s see, money, the fact they’ve lost that respect ever since Dan Rather took over the anchor desk, and especially after the fiasco that cost him his job, money, the fact that Katie Couric has not drawn the kind of ratings they had gambled she would, and money.
Couric was given far too big a job for her to handle, and turning what was once a news machine into a powder room for soft news has only made the CBS News organization into an expensive video blog.
Unfortunately, the entire business of journalism (did I just put journalism and business into the same phrase?) has become incredibly competitive, especially with the diverse resources of the Internet creating a world where the news is not just viewed but is discussed and often influenced by the public. Traditional news outlets have been accustomed to being the influencing forces, and have now become little more than observers while those that have successfully made the transition to more interactive models are becoming the new powerhouses.
CBS had hoped the Couric would create a new look and feel to an old model and attract a younger crowd, but that crowd has already found themselves looking for news sources that are always current, and the “Nightly News” format is slowly dying. Unfortunate that, as I myself enjoy a nice structured wrap-up at the end of the day, but I even find myself getting that from various podcasts: The New York Times Audio Digest (which I know is heavily liberal in its reporting, but valuable nonetheless) and the BBC NewsPod are my two regulars, along with the print and online versions of the Wall Street Journal and the print edition of the Des Moines Register. I rarely watch the local TV news any longer unless I need a weather update, but even that is easier to get from the Web.
Ultimately, CBS is probably looking in the right direction to deal with their fiscal issues, and by leveraging a news organ like CNN, which has a solid 24 hour cable and Internet presence, they can likely both manage their expenses and perhaps have more interesting content available. That said, they need to focus on ways to make the content, with their own special look and feel, more easily available.
One more thing… it seems that the consumers of news are much less interested in the details these days… many people I meet day to day are only interested in a quick snippet of information… just enough to feel informed and to gain an opinion without having to really understand the background. This is a sad state, and the more successful news outlets are feeding this model. Although it may give people enough to get by in a busy work and leisure world, it also will lead to fewer and fewer truly informed people making their own decisions and applying critical thought to what they are fed by the media. Before too long, the populace will want someone to tell them how to think and feel, and that is scary.