- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

'Anchoritis'
"It gives me no pleasure to say this about that nice man Brian Williams, but NBC committed an error last week by anointing him as the anchor-in-waiting to succeed Tom Brokaw in 2004.
"My views should not be taken as an ad hominem indictment of Mr. Williams, for he's a graceful professional, as well as pleasingly unflashy the last a quality as rare on television as an unpierced belly button on MTV. Where NBC erred was in failing to use an impending Brokaw departure to 'downsize' the concept of the anchor to something akin to the self-effacing newsreader in the BBC mold or, to use an older comparison from closer to home, to the way news used to be delivered on American networks before our seemingly incurable 'anchoritis' set in.
"A downsizing would not merely have been in line with the one indisputable trend of television, which is that fewer people watch network news than ever before and they do so because Americans now get most of their news from other sources, including the Web. It would also have allowed NBC to reallocate the vast sums spent on an anchor's salary, including Mr. Williams's impending millions, toward better, crisper news-gathering a return to first principles, as it were."
Tunku Varadarajan, writing on "Anchors Away!" Tuesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

It's back, ma'am
"'Dragnet,' the cop show once considered a 1950s relic, is making a comeback.
"The show is set to appear in mid-season on ABC.
"'Dragnet' was perhaps the most pro-cop show in history. It debuted on radio in 1949, featuring stories taken from Los Angeles police files and 'Joe Friday' as the archetypical cop. The show went off the air in 1959 and returned from 1967-70. When Jack Webb, who portrayed Friday, died in 1983, the LAPD gave him a full-dress memorial service.
"Even people who never saw 'Dragnet' have seen shows inspired by it or know phrases like 'Just the facts, ma'am,' and 'the names have been changed to protect the innocent.'
" 'Dragnet' is the single greatest cop-show franchise in television history,' 'Law & Order' creator Dick Wolf, who will produce the new show, told the Hollywood Reporter. 'It provided the blueprint on which everything has been built.'"
from "A classic returns," in the June 1 issue of World

Media 'epidemic'
"The March 5, 2001, shooting spree at Santana High School in Santee, Calif. revived concerns over the seeming escalation of school violence and its potential links to the age-old schoolyard tradition of bullying.
"School shootings first became a serious issue in the wake of a series of tragic incidents, the most famous being Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris's April 1999 rampage at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colo. Of particular interest was that nearly every shooting was accompanied by reports that the teen-agers involved were marginalized in some way; the Santee shooter especially appears to have been a victim of bullying.
"Both school shootings and bullying have become subjects of extensive media coverage, featuring the pontification of assorted politicians, activists and experts.
"Statistics play a crucial role in this process. Coupled with dramatic, headline-grabbing incidents, they have created the impression that both school violence and bullying are on the rise. Take CBS anchor Dan Rather's post-Santee warning: 'School shootings in this country have become an epidemic.' Such claims have become commonplace among journalists who haven't thought carefully enough about the evidence."
Joel Best, writing on "Monster Hype," in the summer issue of Education Next


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