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Enough With The New

(Posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)

The front page of The Post has a key to a story in Style that says "Katie Couric prepares for her new job as CBS news anchor armed with new ideas."

More new ideas. Swell.

Lest someone call me stuck in the past (someone will anyway, and certainly worse,) let me say I appreciate new. I often prefer it to old. I saw a segment on a news show about how antique furniture sometimes comes with an added bonus--bug infestations which require professional removal--making me more secure in my preference for the contemporary.

But we get so obsessed with "new" that we often never finish the "old"-- and it can be more than just a waste of money (as in, I'm sick of my old television even though it runs perfectly fine so I'll just go out and treat myself to a new one because I so deserve it).

Consider this: Superintendents of schools in urban districts across the country on average spend less than three years in their jobs. Of course, they start out with new plans--but these plans always take more than three years to complete. Then they don't get completed because the new superintendent has his/her own new "reforms." The word "reform" has simply lost its meaning when it comes to schools.

The big losers: Not the superintendents, of course. It's the kids.

The same holds in politics. Politicos love to say that the Democrats need new ideas to take advantage of President Bush's perceived political weakness. Maybe they do. But what if they just honed in on actually doing their part in making sure some of the old issues we face get properly implemented? (Same for the Republicans).

I have no idea whether Couric's ideas will be visionary and transform broadcast news, or flop like other new ideas the networks have tried in their desperate effort to keep market share in an ever broadening market. I certainly hope that she is successful in bringing more people to watch the news.

I just think we would be better off if more of us tried harder to make what we already have work.

By Valerie Strauss |  August 15, 2006; 12:15 PM ET
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Very good point!

Posted by: Frankey | August 15, 2006 1:13 PM


Last week, Marc Fisher introduced you as "a creative dynamo." I would think that creativity involves new ideas -- like Katie Couric brings to her assignments.

And, maybe I'm too harsh, but I really can't find the creativity in a statement like "I just think we would be better off if more of us tried harder to make what we already have work." To me it shounds banal, platitudinous, and devoid of meaningful content. I can't square it with a picture of "creative dynamo."

Posted by: KK | August 15, 2006 1:21 PM

Amen, Marc. Another example is the governor of Virginia. It takes more than four years to get some programs and ideas rolling. Sure, if they are doing a poor job, then they should be ousted, but this ritual of constantly getting new governors is inefficient. If the TV's working, to use Marc's analogy, why do we need a new one? Most TV's last at least eight should VA governors.

Posted by: Jorge | August 15, 2006 1:39 PM

It's not Marc Jorge - but I agree.

Posted by: Bethesda, MD | August 15, 2006 2:06 PM

Covering the news is fundamentally a craft with rules to be followed. What happens in these searches for the new typically is that people forget the rules, which dooms the "new" to failure.

It's becomes too easy to forget that the task is to report the news.

Posted by: CW | August 15, 2006 2:22 PM

It's always good to consider new ideas but people needs to think rationally as to whether or not those new ideas make sense and are in the best interest of all parties involved. Some people would say that simplicity is best (if it's not broke, don't fix it) but while others prefers constant improvement. In the superintendent scenario that Valerie mentions, those with no say in the matter (the students) are the ones who suffer as a result of the power-hungary adults. Who's really looking out for the best interest of the students?

Posted by: WB | August 15, 2006 2:29 PM

New ideas about how to cover the news or just read it? In England they're accurately called news readers. Couric won't overhaul how the news is covered. She may implement some new segments, more (or less) video and/or interviews, etc. Or she could just do like Fox News, and spend the first several minutes giving her opinion on the news you're about to hear.

Posted by: Steve | August 15, 2006 3:56 PM


We now live in the Age of Entitlement. We are entitled to something new and we're entitled to it NOW! And if we can't afford to pay for it, well that's why God invented debt. Something old cannot possibly be of any value, because it's . . . OLD!

At the age of 53, I just stand back and shake my head.

Posted by: Leb | August 15, 2006 4:54 PM

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