Bye Bye To The Eye

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CBS confirmed that their Public Eye blog (still proudly included on our blogroll to the right) has been shut down after its editor, Matthew Felling, was laid off last month.

A spokesperson for CBS Interactive told TVNewser, "We weren’t able to find a sustainable business model for Public Eye. We are exploring ways to maintain a similar spirit of public discourse by engaging the CBSNews.com audience and building a community around multiple voices."

But, as Public Eye’s “about us” section states: “Public Eye is an opportunity for our audience to hold CBS News more publicly accountable. It is also an opportunity for CBS News to be more open about how and why it makes editorial decisions that affect what millions of people see, hear and read each news day.”

There is a bit of a disconnect there, don’t you think? The whole point of Public Eye was to bring transparency and openness to CBS News, and to form a sort of ombudsman to hold the network accountable when something controversial sprung up in their coverage.

Killing off the eye because they could not find a sustainable business model strikes me as insincere at best. If the purpose of the blog was to provide a public service to viewers, then a business model should not be at the top of their priority list.

One thing that the internet has been very good at is pointing out mistakes and flaws with network news reporting. What once might have gone by unnoticed will now surely be scrutinized by Media Matters for America or Newsbusters. Having a nonbiased internal agent to bring those matters to light and investigate them before the liberal/conservative blogosphere should be standard operating procedure by now. Unfortunately that is not the case. None of the networks have an ombudsman, in fact, the closest you got to one was Public Eye.

There are other ways of bringing transparency and openness to the newsroom, certainly, but I always thought Public Eye would be a model for how it should be done. I guess its back to the drawing board.

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