Ever wonder what happened to CNN‘s Aaron Brown? He’s a college professor now at Arizona State University, teaching a class called “Turning Points in Television News”. And talk about a turning point. This is the anchor many watched moments after the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center. I happened to be on a small island in Greece at the time, and all the hotels and bars had Aaron Brown on — he was the world’s anchor at the time. In a recent interview he admits that he really no longer watches any television news. And I can see why he feels this way. Television news just isn’t what it used to be. It really isn’t about journalism anymore. It seems these days anchors are just selling a product, mostly themselves. And then they write a book about it. (Wait, didn’t Aaron Brown, write a book?). As a broadcaster turned professor myself, I still watch television news. Usually for the weather. Sad, but true. I’ve actually timed it, so that I watch the A block on WABC, then come back for weather at 5:20, then 5:45 for the 5-day. I have a problem with DVRing my news.
I really don’t watch any morning shows, local or national. And that surprises people. They think because I worked on a morning show for 10 years, I should be loyal to one. Also, because my husband is an anchor on one. But most of their news stories have already been reported online by a better news organization. And I don’t need to know the 5 fashion must haves for Fall or to hear some celebrity pimp their movie, TV show, book or charity. And there is nothing worse than watching an anchor fiddle with their laptop on the anchor desk saying, “Wilma in the Bronx just posted on our Facebook page that she prefers candy over flowers!” — Really, how is that making my life any better? Click. Oh, look it’s a rerun of Three’s Company.
I do listen to the news on the radio while I’m driving. I like that 1010 and 880 just give me the headlines, just like the web. And if I want more news (and less screaming) I turn to NPR. For some reason when Brian Lehrer spends 45 minutes on budget cuts or politicians turned criminals, I’m riveted. Or maybe because I’m just trapped in my car, cruising along the New Jersey Turnpike. But hey, I do have Sirius radio. I could be bopping to the 80s or 90s instead of listening to Gordon, from Brooklyn, giving his two cents on why charter schools are good for his children.
So what does a journalism college professor tell their students? Aaron Brown works at one of the best journalism schools in the country. If he isn’t watching the news, why should his kids?