My dad seems to think that Katie Couric's leaving NBC is big news.
"She's going to be taking that seat that was occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather," my dad said. "That's big."
"I don't think it is, Dad," I said. "The history of the CBS anchor seat is interesting but it has no greater effect. It is no more interesting than the history of the World Heavyweight Championship belt."
"It's bigger than that, I think," he said. "People care about that sort of thing, just as they care about who's the editor of the New York Times."
But I don't think they do care -- at least not people of my generation or younger. For the most part, I feel that the news business has managed to alienate most people younger than my father's generation, class and race. Of those of us who do pay attention, we tend to make the editorial decisions on our own, collecting news from various sources.
Critics of the Internet utopian vision often reference this fact as a sign that the news world is going to hell in a hand basket. Fair enough that having each person serve as his own filter for the world runs the risk of creating people who do little more than reinforce their own views, but I doubt Katie Couric is the wise sage who can guide me through this world. I doubt anyone at CBS thinks she is, either.
The news business feels like a waning religion, sometimes. Sure, there are still people out there spreading the gospel of journalism in new and exciting ways, but I am increasingly losing faith in the Church of News I was raised in.