U.S. Meeting of RIAS Fellows 1999
Charlotte, September 30 / October 1, 1999

More than 50 American Fellows and thirteen German broadcast editors from the US Editor Program 1999 attended the American Fellow Meeting of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION, coinciding with the RTNDA Annual Convention 1999. The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (RTNDF), with its headquarters in Washington DC, is the American partner organization of the RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION. Keynote speaker was Commission member and former CNN world affairs correspondent Ralph Begleiter, who is presently distinguished journalist in residence at the University of Delaware, Newark.

Ralph Begleiter:

More Channels, Less Information — as Internet Documentaries Become a New Journalism Form


Despite the vastly increasing number of information“channels” the general public will become less well-informed. Serious television documentaries already nearly extinct in American broadcasting,will begin to disappear in Europe as well. Many European broadcasters, currently enjoying the luxury of ignoring ratings, will fall victim to the same economic pressures afflicting broadcasters in the United States.

The “MTV-era” attention span disease raging in the United States will spread to other industrial nations. The drive for ratings will produce changes in the content of broadcast journalism similar to those already observed in the U.S. As the depth and quality of television journalism wanes, new forms of serious information products will emerge on the internet. Richly researched and illustrated web sites, complete with video and audio, will become less expensive to produce and will be uninhibited by the limitations of time imposed by broadcast economics. Initially, these products will be ignored by the general public, which won’t have equipment capable of viewing them satisfactorily and might not even know they’re available. But eventually, these archives of serious information products will prove invaluable, since they remain available where andwhenever individuals need them.