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Norville sends a mixed message

TV journalists: Your future just got sleazier.

The once impenetrable wall between TV news and the in-your-face pack of tabloid programs took a hard hit this week when Emmy Award-winning journalist Deborah Norville fled CBS for Inside Edition.

Norville insists it's a career move. She claims she wasn't getting enough _ or quality _ work at the CBS news magazine, America Tonight. And she said she wasn't always pleased with the ethical maneuvering her stately network employed _ such as polling viewers to determine how to punish O.J. Simpson.

But in leaving to become anchor at the sensationalistic Inside Edition, the former Today show co-anchor has thrown in the professional towel and scarred the industry in the process. She thinks her news judgment, her name recognition and two Emmys will bring credibility to the tabloid program. But at what price?

Now, a future generation of broadcasters looking for self-promotion and big bucks will have a role model in how to sell out to the highest bidder.

The saddest reality, of course, is that most Americans won't be fazed by seeing Norville on Inside Edition. Viewers are tuning into tabloid programs with the equal (or greater) regularity than newscasts.

That's troublesome to WFLA-Ch. 8 news director Dan Bradley. "Maybe we're guilty for emulating some of their style," said Bradley, whose station airs Hard Copy. "But one of the most frustrating things about working in this business is how the audience views (tabloids) as legitimate news programs."

To other journalists, Bradley said, Norville's move will be seen as "a sell-out." But not to viewers: "In the eyes of the audience, it's "Oh, that's nice. I always liked that girl.' "

TV notebook

AND THE WINNER IS TAMPA: Three Tampa video shows are up for Billboard magazine music video awards. The Mike Pachelli Show, a late-night video program on WTMV-Ch. 32, has been nominated for best local/regional show in the rock category. Also on WTMV, V32 was nominated for the local pop/adult contemporary category. Metal Masters, produced for Hillsborough County cable access stations by Libby and Thomas Riley, is up for the local/regional award in the hard rock/metal category. The awards will be announced Nov. 4.