FastPipe Media » HDTV in Oklahoma

Mark Cuban, Dan Rather and HDNet

He’s at it again. Mark Cuban and Dan Rather have finally completed a deal for the news legend to do news for HDNet. Here’s what Cuban had to say on his blog when the news broke that they were talking in June:

HDNet is talking to Dan Rather and we hope to do a deal where he produces a show that uncovers news. Information with a payoff…. Of course we have a 5 year history of news features already with World Report, but why let that get in the way.

The news business is pretty much crap these days with media conglomerates afraid to go after big news stories because the government and the politicians who run it threaten them with fines, jail and more. Journalism is every bit as corrupt as politicians are and so threatening the media where it hurts — in their corporate pocketbooks — is a great way to quiet dissent. It wasn’t like this during Watergate.

Have you looked at our two largest newspapers lately, the Daily Oklahoman and the Tulsa World? Neither one offered anything of use when it came to our state legislatures failure to tackle hard problems like healthcare and education in the most recent session. Did you know that while the legislature mandated schools offer raises to teachers, legislators didn’t allocate money to cover the increased cost of payroll taxes covering those raises.

The same could be said of our local TV stations, most of which were dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. They are all now on the air, but only half the stations offering high definition programming are on cable, which is the media that really has power. As a long time observer of local newscasts and ex-journalist, the local stations haven’t pursued any stories worth pursuing in decades.

What strikes me as interesting about about HDNet and Dan Rather hooking up is that previously newspapers claimed that they had the ability to offer a depth of reporting that broadcast media never could due to inherent differences in the two. But with the internet and our exceedingly short attention spans, newspapers are really no better than traditional broadcast media.

It takes something like an hour-long show on HDNet to offer the kind of in-depth reporting that newspapers used to offer. Nightline used to offer this kind of reporting, but Ted Koppel left to join Discovery Networks. Nightline now really stinks, and worse, it stinks in standard definition. Why wouldn’t I watch Leno or Letterman instead of a late version of Good Morning America?

Besides this new show, Mark Cuban rightly points out that HDNet has been in the news business for five years. Did you see the interview with former president Jimmy Carter or the interview with former FEMA director Michael Brown about what went wrong with Katrina or even the recent shuttle coverage? There hasn’t been better coverage of the space program on any network since Walter Cronkite retired.

So, I hope Dan Rather gets back to doing what he does best in his new gig at HDNet. It wasn’t pretty the way he went out, but I suspect CBS was afraid to really cover the news. After all, his replacement is coming over from the Today Show — not exactly what I would call a resounding move to CBS’ glory days of journalism.

I hope that Mark Cuban does the same thing for journalism that he did for the Dallas Mavericks, buying the team then pulling them back from totally sucking on their way to a championship (eventually), and HDTV, which as I’ve said before wouldn’t be here were it not for HDNet.

The nice thing about running this site is that occasionally I get to rant. Thanks for listening…

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