time: late, very late, due to typepad glitches;
Ted Koppel appeared before television critics this morning via satellite from Guantanamo Bay where he was shooting Security and Liberty, the first special in the Koppel on Discovery series. The three-hour long program debuts on the eve of 9/11 and examines the "delicate issues at the nexus of protecting our national security and preserving our civil liberties," said Discovery Net President Billy Campbell as he introduced Koppel.
On stage during Discovery Nets' January '06 presentation, a testy Koppel snapped at a respected critic who dared ask a fairly innocuous and well-researched question. But this time - with a 15-knot wind ruffling his gray hair and flanked by a half-dozen fatigue-clad military personnel holding a white canopy overhead - Koppel kept his temper in check.
Koppel's concerns about ratings and demographic pressures on news divisions echoed those of Dan Rather, who appeared at yesterday's (Tues.) HDNet presentation. "When it comes to news coverage we have an additional responsibility," Koppel said, "and that is to tell people what they need to know, what they ought to know. And it is our business to make that as easily understandable and as interesting as possible, but not to avoid subjects simply because it drives away younger viewers."
Koppel also slammed networks for cutting budgets and shuttering news bureaus.
"It was hoped as a consequence of 9/11 that networks would focus in again on foreign news. that is not the case. Our network news divisions simply do not have the corps of foreign correspondents that they had twenty to twenty five years ago. Now it is done far more by parachuting in an anchor or some correspondent who is based in London.
What we don't have but what we need more than we have ever needed before in the history of television is young, aggressive correspondents who are willing to spend two, three, even ten years in a certain region getting to know the language, getting to know the culture, getting to know the people. I don't think there is a commercial network around that has a permanent correspondent based in India.
I'm not taking a cheap shot here. I'm suggesting that India one way or another is destined to become one of the most important countries in the world, if it's not already. It is, after all, the world's largest single democracy. It's economy is growing by leaps and bounds. It's needs and demands for energy are going to come into direct conflict w/ our own.
For this, of all times, for network news divisions to feel they can't afford to have active news bureaus in some of the most important overseas locations, I think its a travesty and it's something that we're going to be paying for for years to come."