Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Less time for "Free Speech"

The 90-second "Free Speech" segment that was inagurated along with Katie Couric this fall on the CBS evening news is going to be cut back, and in a big way.

The segment, which allowed one person to talk about an issue of their choice, was celebrated by some viewers but criticized my more. Of particular issue was the segment's use of commentary from people like Rush Limbaugh, Ariana Huffington and Barack Obama--celebrities who already have a considerable opportunity to make their views public.

Sometimes the program allowed "regular" Americans to speak out, but for many viewers, there was simply too much celebrity and not enough freedom. Others suggested that the segment was a waste of time, a distraction from more important, "solid" news.

According to CBS, "Free Speech" will now air only one to three times each week. (You can read a Washington Post column about the changes here.)

I'm not sure what to think about the news about the downfall of "Free Speech." On one hand, I agree that the constant parade of celebrity commentators was not particularly interesting or helpful. The segment should have been all the time what it was some of the time--a venue for a wide cross-section of Americans to speak about something important to them.

Sure, it's not "typical" news, but the concerns and celebrations of Americans in Alabama, Oregon and Wisconsin is just as important as anything else. They are where the big stories start and where we should be looking more of the time.



At Tuesday, November 14, 2006, Anonymous TD said...

I think there is a time and a place for something like this and it just seemed out of place in the middle of the evening news.

I wanted news but I had to sit through and watch free speech, so I am sort of glad that the segment is not going to appear as often.

But, I do think hearing from regular folks is interesting.

At Wednesday, November 15, 2006, Anonymous JG said...

I may be representative of the minority, but I like the "Free Speech" segment. It's an opportunity for me to listen to another person's viewpoints without interruption and better formulate my opinions based off of his or her's. Sometimes I get angry at what people have to say during these spots, but in the end, I like them because I can find a better way to articulate my views. I think this is a good exercise in debate.

I also like news that goes against the grain and tests something new. The "Free Speech" segment does just that. Maybe it just takes a little longer to get used to.

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