[RICHARD] The News Biz In The Post O’Reilly Era
Cable news is about to change forever. After the disastrous coverage of the 2016 national campaign we knew this day would come. I doubt many suspected the change would begin with the unceremonious ouster of the reigning king Bill O’Reilly.
FOX News, in particular O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” dominated the ratings before, during and after the election. After twenty years at FOX, O’Reilly remained the champion in all of cable news. Even as The New York Times was printing unflattering stories of sexual harassment allegations and payouts to victims, O’Reilly’s rating went up. Some 50 advertisers walked on O’Reilly and that ultimately is what did him in.
Poll after poll reflect a widening consumer distrust of the national news media that began even prior to the election. The election coverage, deemed by many voters to be biased and unfair, resulted in a vast movement away from traditional media sources and a greater reliance on local and social media.
Most who watch these things closely understand that change is required if the so-called, “main stream media” is to regain the public’s trust. I think many of us thought that change would begin with the beleaguered CNN or MSNC. But, as it did when it first premiered in 1996 it appears as though FOX will lead that change again.
There have been hints of change elsewhere. For example, The New York Times has increased the number of conservative columnists it employs and has admitted that it’s coverage of the election cycle was not as fair as it should have been. President Donald Trump has also contributed greatly to the changes through the use of non-traditional media sources such as Facebook and of course Twitter.
The dismissal of Bill O’Reilly from The FOX News Channel allows the network to begin making the necessary changes that new sets and fancy bells, lights and whistles cannot do. Today’s television news model is old and tired and requires a new approach.
Rupert Murdoch’s son James is pretty much in charge of redesigning the FOX brand now and has his eye on something new. How exactly that will look is anyone’s guess at this point. One thing is for sure, whatever it is that Murdoch rolls out will be emulated by the other networks and a new era will begin.
That’s exciting news for those of us who badly want change in how our news is gathered and presented.
Editor’s Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.