Ex-ABC, now Discovery Channel newsman Ted Koppel has come up with a new and potentially revolutionary journalism job: foreign correspondent.
When asked for B&C's anniversary issue to dust off his crystal ball and predict what future programming development will have the greatest impact on the business, Koppel used the opportunity to take aim at the current state of journalistic affairs.
"At some point, in the not-too-distant future, it is going to occur to someone in authority at a network news division that developments beyond the borders of the United States are worthy of ongoing and detailed attention by a corps of smart, curious and courageous young men and women who are willing to live and work in places like India, China and the Middle East for extended tours," said Koppel. "We could call these people '“foreign correspondents.' Their reports could inform us of important and potentially dangerous developments at a time when we can ill afford to remain in the dark."
"Actually, ... never mind. It’s too expensive, and why would anything that anyone’s hatching overseas have any kind of impact on us?"
While former FCC Chairman Newton Minow (Mr. "Vast Wasteland") was also polled for his picks and pans of TV's future, Koppel was even tougher on the medium.
Asked to describe TV at its worst, Koppel laid into it with vigor: "Television, which has such an enormous capacity for greatness, remains the most timid medium in the communications universe," he said.
"It is marked by endless repetition, banality and lack of creativity. It continues to be strangled by its own commercial success, breeding endless copies of whatever mediocrity currently enjoys ratings success. Television makes money by reacting to the market rather than achieving greatness (and perhaps making even more money) by leading and producing genuine creativity."
Still, he saw some light in the old box and wires yet, saying that what made him hopeful was "the enormous diversity that the new technologies are producing. The sheer number of people who can contribute bright, challenging ideas across the spectrum of broadband makes some explosions of greatness inevitable."