Watching Assignment 1: News Wars

Watch Part III of this Frontline report: News Wars. Be prepared on Monday to discuss the episode. Click the “Read More” link to read the rest of the assignment.

Discussion Assignment

Instructions: We will watch “News War Part III,” a production of Frontline, online at the PBS website (

Before you view the video, read the following questions so that you can be prepared as you view the program. You might want to take notes as you go along.

After viewing the program, answer the following questions thoroughly and completely in a blog post to your weblog.

 IMPORTANT: Your answers must be published to the blog by Monday, Sept. 12 to receive full credit for this assignment. Incomplete or incoherent answers will result in a lower grade. Spelling and grammatical errors will also deduct from your total score on this assignment.

What in this program surprised you? Name one new thing you learned about the current state of the news industry from watching the film. How do you see yourself as a news consumer in relation to the content of the film?

  1. The program begins by focusing on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. The executive producer says “ personally, through working at this job, have come to feel that the news media is even more depressing than the news it attempts and fails miserably to report.” Do you agree or disagree with his assessment? Why or why not?
  2. Ted Koppel and Lowell Bergman argued that one trend in the 1980s led to the decline of television news. What was that trend? Why do they say it caused tv news to decline? Do you agree or disagree with Koppel and Bergman? Why or why not?
  3. Larry Kramer of Yahoo! News pegs the changing economic underpinnings of the news industry on the audience. What specifically about the audience is causing such problems for traditional news media? As a consumer of information, do you feel in control of the information you receive? Do you feel you get an accurate picture of the world as it impacts your life through the news and information you use?
  4. Google and Yahoo! News both depend on newspaper reporters for much of their content. Why do they say they do not want to produce content, or buy traditional media companies? What do you think about their stance? Are they parasites on traditional news-gathering organizations, or are they providing a valuable distribution channel? Explain your answer.
  5. Dean Baquet views newspapers as a public trust, with a public service mission. Do you believe him? Or do you believe people who say newspapers are just like any other business? Explain your answer.
  6. After watching the program, explain how you would propose “fixing” the news media economic model if you were in charge.
  7. How have things changed in the four years since the report aired. How much of what was reported is still applicable? What has changed? Are things better or worse for the news industry?

About Bryan Murley

I am associate professor for new and emerging media at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.

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