25 August 2010

Afghan War Stories a 'Ratings Downer'

What has become of us?

CBS' Afghanistan trip unrewarded, a ratings downer

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Katie Couric and the "CBS Evening News" team did some striking work during a two-day trip to Afghanistan last week, only to see some record-setting low ratings in return.

The Nielsen Co. ratings have to be discouraging to news organizations contemplating expensive assignments in a tough economy. The broadcast's executive producer, Rick Kaplan, said he made "no apologies" for traveling to the war zone because of the importance of the story.

The CBS newscast averaged 4.89 million viewers last week, the lowest for evening newscasts in the nearly 20 years in which compatible Nielsen Co. records exist and most likely the lowest for at least a couple of decades before that into the early days of television. CBS also dipped below 5 million for one week in late July, during the normally slow summer months.

For the Thursday telecast that started the trip, the CBS newscast was seen by 4.69 million people, Nielsen said. Friday's show dipped to 4.38 million.

The broadcasts featured war zone interviews by Couric of the U.S. Afghan commander, Gen. David Petraeus.

Correspondent Terry McCarthy did a story about a U.S. Marine team in charge of locating and defusing bombs, and of the three men he featured one was killed and the others were seriously wounded in an explosion.

Couric's final essay was about what might happen to women if the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan. She asked: "Will the nations of the world allow the newfound rights of girls and women to become a casualty of a brokered peace?"

For those who are interested, here's Terry McCarthy's story about that Marines EOD Team.

Cpl. Kristopher "Daniel" Greer, of Ashland City, TN died August 8 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center of the wounds he sustained on August 6. Sgt. Johnny Jones and Staff Sgt. Eric Chir are fighting their way to recovery.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

- Ronald Reagan

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