Nightly News Obituaries
By Andrew H. Vanacore
Vanacore is an AJR editorial assistant.
Asked if the network news divisions would exist in 15 to 20 years, former CBS News President Fred Friendly responded, "I don't think so."
(Interview with the Los Angeles Times, 1986)
"Here's what news viewers can expect to see in the rest of this decade.... The gradual demise of network news, as budget cuts force the networks to forgo future improvements, or possibly even the complete disappearance of dinnertime network news, to be replaced by news at earlier or later times or by wide-ranging local news."
(Arthur Unger, the late movie and TV critic for the Christian Science Monitor, 1987)
"If you want my prediction about the network news in the next 10 years, it would have to be that I'm not sure there's going to be any, at least not in the sense of a regular network news presentation on a daily basis. Network news today has too little to offer that is not available elsewhere. More and more, the networks will specialize in interviews instead of straight news. I would guess that very early in the '90s at least one network will drop straight news presentations."
(Former NBC News President Reuven Frank to Playboy, 1989)
"Some analysts predict one of the big three will be forced out of the news business, and it likely will be TV news pioneer CBS, whose evening news ratings have slipped steadily for five years."
(Jeffry Scott, staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1991)
"It is possible that one or more networks will abandon news, merge its overseas operations, or eliminate a nightly newscast and instead sell news packages to stations."
(Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker, in his 1991 book, "Three Blind Mice")
"As it enters its sixth decade, the nightly network news is showing all the signs of an idea whose time has gone."
(Harry F. Waters, correspondent for Newsweek, 1993)
One of the three newscasts "will go away in the next 10 years."
(Former ABC News Executive Vice President Paul Friedman to the Hollywood Reporter, 1996)
"The end of network news was officially announced Wednesday."
(John Ellis, then a columnist for the Boston Globe, on the news that all three broadcast networks had approached CNN about "various news-gathering relationships," 1998)
"An era is ending. Technology and the economics together are driving network news into the ground."###
(Former CBS News correspondent Daniel Schorr, now a senior news analyst at National Public Radio, to the Hollywood Reporter, 2005)