Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tyrannosaurus Rather - Last of his kind?

When the last Tyrannosaurus Rex bellowed his last threatening roar, did he know he was the last of his kind and that no other “T-Rex” would mourn his passing?

At that moment, T-Rex was oblivious that the world was not as he knew it, and that it would never be again. Once dominant, now the last defeated dinosaur, T-Rex could not survive CHANGE.

The modern T-Rex, Monolithic Autocratic Oracles known as Network Anchors are the last to note the change that surrounds them. Of course, Dan Rather is the poster child of the issue. He’s lost connection with the reality of inevitable change.

Like AT&T, the once monolithic telephone company, which has given way to hundreds of phone companies and multiple technologies, Network News and major newspapers, must recognize they must adapt to the change through technology.

It is not, as Dan Rather sees it, some political force like the “religious right” and “corporate pressure” that brings fear to the newsrooms. It is change.

Instead of being monolithic creatures that deliver the news, journalists now occupy an interactive world. There are multiple sources, and multiple ways of delivering news and information. No longer tied to who owns a broadcast license, or the local daily newspaper, consumers of the news product can accept, or search for alternatives if the news product doesn’t seem satisfactory.

And that choice leads to something else – even more important. ACCOUNTABILITY.

Mr. Rather has learned a little about the accountability associated with this new interactive news environment. (I’d hope so) News has evolved with the technology available. Those who fear these developments simply are unprepared for the dramatic changes of our time.

AT&T employees feared the break up of the bell system. Buggy Whip makers had to fear the automobile. Now the monoliths of news must fear the blogs, or embrace them.

Instead of guest hosting Larry King Live as Malkin reports, Dan Rather ought to fire up a blog, and open his pages to comments and rebuttal. He might learn a little.

One more point about Mr. Rather. He looks to a time when management stood by the journalists, as if some dramatic change has occurred during the Bush administration. He’s looking back, with none too clear an eye. I do not believe what happened last year with the forgery of National Guard documents would have been acceptable in any news organization at any time. In fact, the deference given to him is unprecedented.