• Wed. Aug 17th, 2022



WRAL anchor David Crabtree reflects on 40-year TV career :: WRAL.com

— North Carolina native Edward R. Murrow once said in 1964: “The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”

At the time, the speed of light felt different.

When you hear that quote from Murrow, what comes to mind? The importance of getting the story right.

Professor Steven King teaches future journalists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We are both amazed with the speed of the growth of media technology, and the price we sometimes pay.

In 2020, Jim Goodmon signed a contract, making a commitment to high-definition technology at a time when HD basically didn’t exist. Vision that sees beyond the obvious is why WRAL News has led the planet in how news is gathered and delivered.

The history includes a long list of firsts, things viewers take for granted, including a satellite truck, Sky 5 helicopter, website, high definition and 4K video.

WRAL News delivered the first high definition newscast in the world on Oct. 13, 2000, from the North Carolina State Fair.

Fast forward 22 years, and we realize our industry has been disrupted and tightened by pandemics of politics, culture, identity and COVID.

At Capitol Broadcasting Co., our technology helps us honor your opinions and your loyalty. Viewers demand information more quickly and demand more accountability from us.

Sometimes that accountability is also to remind people the sky is not falling. I come from the old school.

The role of technology in TV News

Sometimes we look for an easy way out. Over the 40 years I’ve spent as a reporter and anchor, I’ve felt the sting of the arrow in my back. It includes:

  • “Fake news!”
  • “It’s the media’s fault…”
  • “To hell with all of you… you make my life miserable.”
  • Are the critics right?”

Sometimes they might be.

Does technology play a role in the problems?

In some ways the link is undeniable. Yet the partnership between technology and journalistic problems is more complicated than that. Self-examination helps.

Speed and competition can lead to inaccuracies. Not the same as fake.

While we process information as we receive it, we do not intentionally distort the facts.

At WRAL News, we have no interest in an agenda other than reporting the truth, as we know it to be at a given time, knowing truth can shift, and in some cases, truths can expire.

If we make a mistake, we correct. Getting the story right is always more important than being the first to report it. The goal is to do both.

That competitive spirit can and sometimes does get in the way, however, it should not be the driving force in our daily work.

How do we get better? Can the trust be rebuilt by embracing the technology? Can the technology help drive quality over quantity? And better accuracy? I believe so.

If not, Murrow’s words will continue to haunt us and problems with modern media will only get worse. Help keep us focused. We may complain about the targets on our backs, the reality is, we wouldn’t have it any other way.