Where do Old ABC News Journalists Go to Die...?
The answer: Anywhere but ABC News.
Former Nightline correspodent Michel Martin is the latest experienced hand to announce her departure from the Alphabet Network's news division, landing at National Public Radio, where she will host a two-hour public affairs show focused on issues of interest to black people. An Emmy-winning reporter, Martin joined ABC News in 1992, most recently contributing some incisive reporting from areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
So, of course, there was no room for her once Nightline was "retooled."
As I noted in a post filed near the end of anchor Ted Koppel's tenure on Nightline, the program has been sheddding serious journalists since network brass made it clear they wanted to make the program younger, more feature-oriented and more like every other newsmagazine on air.
Former executive producer Leroy Sievers is doing volunteer work with various Non Governmental Organizations. Former correspodent Robert Krulwich preceded Martin in a move to NPR, where he once worked before. And Koppel just announced a deal with Discovery Networks to produce documentaries for their channels with his longtime producing partner Tom Bettag and nine other former Nightline staffers.
It's a shame that so many experienced journalists feel that network TV is no longer interested in their brand of serious journalism anymore -- focused as it is on the missing middle class person of the week, and the latest moves of Brangelina, or Tomkat or Vinnifer or whatever.
Our only choice? To dial up NPR or the Discovery Channel and enjoy their work where we can.
Riddle #2: When Do News Reporters Avoid Reporting the News?
Answer: When one of them is at the center of it, apparently.
How else to explain the decision by reporters for American news outlets in Iraq not to report the kidnapping of freelance journalist Jill Caroll for 48 hours after her abduction -- in which her Iraqi translator was shot and killed? NBC reporter Richard Engel noted on the Baghdad bureau's blog that reporters there swung into action soon as they learned of her kidnapping, doing everything but file reports for their employers.
"We helped keep the story quiet -- an act of self-policing we ultimately lost," wrote Engel, who helped report on Carroll's disappearance for Monday's edition of the Today show. "At some level we know that one day this could happen to any one of us."
The Associated Press said U.S. news organizations agreed to the news blackout to give authorities time to investigate the abduction quietly (foreign news outlets reported the incident). But have they extended that courtesy to any of the other Westerners -- truck drivers, aid workers and foriegn journalists -- who have been kidnapped there?
I can't imagine what reporters are going through to do their jobs in that corner of the world. But I'm pretty certain that treating members of the American media differently in their own reportage won't make things any easier.