Mike Wallace, Entertainment, and Journalism

Mike Wallace, veteran media personality, died the other day at age 93.  May he rest in peace.  If air time and salary are measures of merit, Wallace was a television star and an unqualified success.  He was a triple-treat too: pitchman, game show host, and actor.  On the back nine, Mike liked to think of himself exclusively as a journalist.  The network might have plucked him from daytime television -- but taking the shill out of the entertainer was another matter.  Wallace was the quintessential barker, an ambulance-chaser with press credentials.  He perfected the art of "ambush" journalism at CBS.  With such tactics, copy led only when it bled.  Indeed, Mike Wallace's career echoes some of the more predatory traditions of broadcast journalism. The idea that daytime television (a mind-numbing mix of games, gossip, cartoons, and fake reality shows) is a good apprenticeship for serious journalism is a little like believing that playing...(Read Full Article)