With the erosion of newspapers, broadcasters have to step up and fill the vital role of watchdog in local communities, says CBS newsmanBob Schieffer, this year’s winner of the NAB Distinguished Service Award.
Schieffer: Broadcasters Vital To Local News
Bob Schieffer, CBS chief Washington correspondent and recipient of this year’s NAB Distinguished Service Award, says its up to local broadcasters to become the primary watchdogs of local government with newspapers increasingly falling on hard times.
Unless there is some entity in the community “that keeps an eye on local government, we are going to see corruption in this country in a way never seen before,” Schieffer said Monday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
“I believe broadcasters can become that entity,” said Schieffer, honored for his 56-year journalism career. “I think your responsibility is going to be increased but there also is an opportunity for us that wasn’t there before.”
Broadcasters need to be keenly aware of — and proactive in pursuing — their meatier role as an essential step in preserving democracy, as more and more newspapers are either cutting back or closing up shop. It would behoove broadcasters to hire highly skilled newspaper reporters as they become available, he said.
“You cannot have a democracy unless people have that independently gathered version of events compared to what government is telling them,” he said. “More and more it’s going to be the broadcaster that is depended on for that accurate information.”
The way Schieffer sees it, “There is no question we are in midst of a communications revolution. No one knows where this thing is going,” he said. “The journalism world has been turned upside.”
But “we worry about the wrong things” in giving more attention to how news, versus what kind of news, is being delivered to consumers, Schieffer said.
“Technology will decide all of these questions,” he said. “What all of us should be worried about is not how we’re going to get the news but the news we are going to get — and will it be news that the public gets after it has been vetted and held to the same standards we now hold in mainstream journalism. Is it true?”