When I was young, one of the questions that young people had was what the next Disney movie was going to be. For a stretch (and maybe still so), Disney produced one major theatrical release a year, usually drawing on some fairy tale or myth. And it was always a big deal. Even when I got too old to enjoy these movies, I was still always interested in what they were going to attack next. Then at some point it really stopped mattering.

Some of that is attributable to my age and my diminishing interest in musical cartoons, but not all of it. Other studios started coming out with competing products. But mostly, though, cable television and other avenues of entertainment made what Disney was up to matter less. At least outside the realm of kids.

So when the truly excellent Emperor’s New Groove came out, it took me a few years before I got around to seeing it. And when I saw it, I was only vaguely aware that it was Disney’s movie that year.

On another note, Charles Gibson is stepping down as the anchor of ABC Evening News. When Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather stepped down, or at least announced their decision to do so, it was a huge deal. The question of who was going to replace them was significant news and news that I actually cared about. Similarly when Peter Jennings died. It was kind of a huge thing that suddenly all three of the national faces of news stepped down and suddenly there were new people reading from the teleprompter.

Gibson is stepping down after only four years or so and a single national election. Gibson is younger than were any of the previous triumvirate, but not much younger. On one hand, it seems really bizarre that someone would step down at the top of the heap and after such a short time. Jennings, Rather, and Brokaw were each anchors for over twenty years. Some of that is attributable to Gibson’s age (his NBC and CBS counterparts are 15 years younger than he), but I can’t help but believe that in a different time and place he would have held on a lot longer.

But like the Disney movies of yesteryear, nightly news programs have lost a great deal of their relevance. People that are really interested in that sort of thing have shifted to cable news and the Internet. The opinion-makers are as likely to be watching Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. And both the casual viewer and opinion-maker are more likely to be watching The Daily Show, which hit its relevance about the time that the big boys were stepping down (or dying).

A part of me feels the need to get nostalgic over the way it used to be, but the Trusted Names in Journalism are so often just faces and not journalists in the same way that writers for the New York Times are journalists. And another reason for the fall of journalism is how much more apparent that is. When Peter Arnett was caught reporting something that wasn’t true, he quickly pointed out that he contributed “not one comma” to the report. He was just the reader. When Katie Couric was caught plagiarizing a WSJ article, it came out that she doesn’t even write those columns (though she still claims that she did). And of course Dan Rather seemed pretty out-of-the-loop during the whole Rathergate affair. But even to the extent that their “managing editor” position holds any relevance, nobody holds any illusions about whether or not they spend their time doing the leg work.

Even so, I’ll miss Charlie Gibson. He was the only one of the three that I could even remotely take seriously. Probably for all the wrong reasons.

Category: Newsroom, Theater

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