What's the matter with media?
Cynthia McFadden is an anchor and correspondent for ABC News who currently co-anchors Nightline and Primetime. Recently named co-anchor of “Primetime” on ABC News, she has been at that network since 1994, when she joined as a legal correspondent. She became a correspondent for “PrimeTime Live” in 1996, and in 2005 she was named co-anchor of ABC News “Nightline.
McFadden has conducted numerous interviews with politicians and cultural figures from Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to Madonna. She was the legal editor and narrator of the ABC News documentary series “In the Jury Room,” the first television program ever to show jury deliberations in a death penalty case. The hour-long documentary she co-anchored on school integration 50 years after Brown v. Board of Ed has won several awards, including first place documentary from the New York Association of Black Journalists; in 2001-02, for her reporting on 9/11, McFadden and her ABC team received a Dupont Award. McFadden's other awards include the George Foster Peabody Award, an Oversees Press Club Award, six Cine Golden Eagles, the Ohio State Award, two Silver Gavels from the American Bar Association, the Grand Award at the New York Festival and the Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival.
Cynthia McFadden has appeared as a guest on numerous talk and news shows, including 20/20 and The Charlie Rose Show. Before joining ABC, from 1984-1991, she was the executive producer of Fred Friendly's Media and Society seminars, based at Columbia University, and she became an anchor and senior producer at Courtroom Television in '91, the year of that network's inception. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Bowdoin College, and received her law degree from Columbia University.
Question: What's the matter with media?
Cynthai McFadden: You know what I think is most important? I think the worst television is put on the air by people who put their finger in the air and try to figure out which way the wind is blowing. That’s unwatchable television. It’s pandering. It’s talking down to people. If you try to sit in your living room and think what that wonderful, 18 to 49 year old woman in Iowa wants to see on the news that night, you are going to just bore the tears out of her because it doesn’t come from any real place. You know I hate to quote my mentor Fred, but Fred used to say to us, “Put on your passion.” Hire people who are passionate. Hire people who care about the world, who see the world in a way . . . Put their pieces on television. And after a while, if the public doesn’t want to watch those pieces, fire them! But don’t try to just smush everybody down into sort of a bland vanilla. You know we . . . I think the networks do way too much of that. It’s very, very hard to break out of vanilla. The beauty of “Nightline” is that we have enough time. And because of the time we’re on at night . . . We both have the length of time in the pieces and the time slot that allow us to experiment. And sometimes things go horribly wrong, and sometimes they go very right.
Recorded on: Jul 7 2007
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