NAB chat takes look at blogs, TV news

LAS VEGAS — Journalists Sam Donaldson, Jeff Greenfield and Charles Osgood gathered for an NAB panel Tuesday that examined broadcast issues such as the First Amendment, blogging and the future of television news.

Q&A was moderated by outgoing NAB prexy-chief exec Eddie Fritts.

Panel consensus was that a reporter federal shield law needs to be passed as soon as possible. “The ability to protect sources is so important to getting information,” Osgood said. “We are surrogates for the public.”

“If this is not given appropriate legislation, it is not dangerous for the reporter, but for the public,” Greenfield said.

The panel also discussed corporate pressure over which topics make the broadcast airwaves. Osgood maintained that in 39 years in the business, no one at CBS has told him what to say on the air.

Donaldson’s experience was different. “We live in a capitalistic country,” he said. “There is a bottom line. We can’t raise our rates because our audience is declining. The (corporate) pressure is innate.”

Alluding to the Reagan administration’s war on drugs, Greenfield said, “Networks don’t make any money selling marijuana. We make a ton of money selling beer.”

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