The signs have been adding up: CBSNews.com did major layoffs and an aggressive retreat from news online. CBS stations made news layoffs aplenty. And now CBS is said to be talking with CNN — again — about outsourcing news to CNN. One imagines a one-woman-thick news operation: Katie Couric reading intros to CNN reports. The pressure of being the Tiffany network is long over. I’ll bet they will finally have the guts to go out of the news business, apart from 60 Minutes. And if that happens, others will get the courage to do likewise. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Oh, we’ll hear wailing about public service and the public airwaves — that and a damned expensive contract is why they’ll keep Couric in a storefront operation. But what we have now is not public service. We don’t need three evening newscasts exactly alike except as a repository for erectile dysfunction commercials. So let one or two networks win the ratings. Let CBS put more resources into investigations on 60 Minutes. Let CNN cover breaking news — with more help from witnesses with cameras. I hope they let others take that news and curate it in different ways with different perspectives. There’ll be a new ecology of news on video and it’s about time.
by Jeff Jarvis