For decades it was a given that whenever the president traveled, a charter plane packed with members of the press would travel with him. But the press flights have been sharply curtailed in recent months, a victim of cost-cutting by news organizations that are struggling to stay profitable.
As a result, fewer reporters are tagging along with President Obama and his aides, limiting the number of news sources at a time when Americans are acutely interested in White House policies and personalities.
“The sole reason is money,” said Edwin Chen, the senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who called the cutbacks alarming.
The budget cutbacks — by news organizations as varied as USA Today and ABC News — are catching up with White House coverage, traditionally job No. 1 of the news bureaus here. It is the latest sign of retrenchment, years after many regional newspapers stopped assigning reporters to the White House. Now even the big networks are feeling strained.
“The prices are exorbitant,” said David Westin, the president of ABC News. Seats on a press charter plane can run $2,000 for a domestic flight and tens of thousands overseas. ABC appears to be watching costs as it reshapes the news division, which eliminated 25 percent of its staff positions this spring.
I find it sad/funny that this article was published the same day that this season of ABC’s Bachelorette premiered, in which ABC flew 10+ men and Ali from Cali to NYC, Iceland (over the volcano days before it erupted!!), Turkey, Portugal and Tahiti.
We have two reactions this this, and they’re entirely inconsistent. On the one hand, having a pack of reporters following the President on every official trip is all kinds of silly—everyone gets the same pool reports, and it’s a lot of money for news orgs to spend to get essentially the same story that everyone else has.
On the other, and this is especially aimed at David Westin and the heads of the broadcast networks: Are you guys serious? The whole reason you’re allowed to take public airwaves to broadcast your shows (and, more important, to hijack that public space and sell it to advertisers) is because you are supposed to provide a public good, namely news and information, in return. It’s laughable for ABC, which reportedly was charging $900,000 for a 30-second spot on the Lost finale, to complain about having to spend $2k for a reporter’s plane ticket.
Alston, making a plea for unanswered questions in the last episode of Lost.
(If Cuse and Lindelof had commissioned me to write the finale in a way that would satisfy only me.)
Excellent. Now we have 2 1/2 hours of our lives back on Sunday…
Caryn James on how the new film, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, makes the case for Rivers’ cultural significance:
Without her coarse, sexually frank stand-up, where would Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler be? The film’s trickier, more revealing theme appears between the lines. The cameras followed Rivers for a year, beginning in mid-2008 when she turned 75, capturing moments of raw honesty often in the same scenes that display huge blind spots. In a limo on the way to a Comedy Central roast, Rivers whines to her assistant, “I am so depressed,” because she’s anticipating the predictable jokes about surgery and aging. So why does she do it? For the money—not exactly a depressing motive. (After all, she has a staff and a gilded, faux-Versailles apartment to maintain.) What emerges is a remarkable portrait of the vanity, vulnerability, and personal cost of being an ambitious old lady in celebrity culture.
Goodnight, sweet procedural law drama.
Here’s what we were wondering around Nwk HQ: If they didn’t announce a cancellation, how would anyone know? L&O is like the ocean we swim in; there are so many episodes out there, playing so often, that it could have been years before anyone caught on…
Yep. Poniewozik has it right. I’m an incredible LOST apologist, but, jeeez. Honestly, my eyes rolled back in my head so many times last night that I know what the back of my skull looks like now. (It’s fleshier, more tender than I would have thought.) Oh, and here’s the brilliant Patton Oswalt routine being referenced above.
Honestly, the thing we’ll miss most about lost is Poniewozik discussing it.
Alston, on Happy Town and the state of the TV serial drama
Alston, in a nice piece on her new show:
The sitcom for which White is most known, The Golden Girls, didn’t shy away from the issues women grapple with as they age. But it wasn’t a pity party; it was a silver-haired version of Friends—built around the idea that fun, friendship, love, and triumph don’t have to end when you move from one phase of life to the next. The only thing on the air that’s similar to it now is the new slice-of-life reality series Sunset Daze, which follows a sextet of 60ish women living in an Arizona retirement community. They’re vibrant and funny: enjoying their golden years, not defeatedly wading through them. It’s a rare example of reality television that genuinely reflects reality, rather than Hollywood’s dystopic views of divorced and widowed empty nesters marching inexorably toward isolated, joyless futures. Like Sunset Daze, White’s lioness-in-spring phase is a much-needed reminder to older women that life doesn’t end until it ends. But in order to get the message, they’ll have to pay attention to how White behaves in life, not how she acts on television.