My business partner recently wrote a glowing blog about his Disney experiences. There's no doubt that Disney does entertainment remarkably well. I'll bet Walt is smiling as he looks down from that Magic Kingdom in the sky.
That said, entertainment properties such as Disney have no real understanding of, or appreciation for, journalism. To them, it's an expense item. Period.
So, although it's sad to see, it comes as no surprise that Disney-owned ABC News is trimming 300 to 400 journalists from its staff. That's 25 percent of the total. ABC News president David Westin said "The time has come to rethink how we do what we are doing.” That's corporate speak for “I was just following orders.”
Journalism has really taken it on the chin in recent years. First, there were the acquisitions of ABC, NBC and others by media conglomerates. Then came the rise of the 500-plus cable channel universe. The real cataclysm, though, came with the social media explosion that gave rise to millions upon millions of citizen journalists. Choices were everywhere and everyone was calling herself a journalist. What was a poor news network to do?
ABC News never had a Walter Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley. But, the network has produced some of the profession's best newscasters and journalists all the same.
The stripped-down remnants of the remaining operation prompt a Disney-like analogy in my mind: ABC News is Pinocchio to Disney's Geppetto. When business and entertainment types control the strings, objective news coverage suffers. And, we all pay the price for a society that continues to be dominated by sleazy tabloid 'news' as opposed to true journalism. Where are Woodward & Bernstein when we really need them?