(NEW YORK) - Mike Wallace just died and I already miss him. I missed his in your face style of journalism for a long time now. From the moment 60 minutes hit the air in 1968, it was more than anything Mike Wallace’s showcase.
Sure there were other hosts, but the name you remember is Mike Wallace; he became the face of dogged, in your face, investigative reporting.
The joke used to be that the six words no powerful person wants to hear is 'Mike Wallace is at the door.'
But the long form, confrontational, investigative television reports that Mike Wallace was known for, have been dying for a long time now. Television consultants, budget cutbacks, new rating systems and lawsuits simply don’t allow for long investigative reports.
In most newsrooms you will get the reasons that we don’t have the staff, they take too long to put together, they take too much air time; if the audience isn’t interested, they’ll change the channel and in the end you might get sued.
Nowadays as you know, everybody sues over everything and in many cities the juries are like broken slot machines that just keep paying out. That more than anything else is killing investigative journalism.
Nowadays confrontations on cable are not substantive, but theatrical with hosts or guests yelling at each other. We could have used Mike Wallace when the banks on Wall Street were pushing our country to the brink of economic collapse. And now when super packs and k street lobbying firms are buying and selling our country more than ever.
But alas, Mike Wallace the great crusader has died.
I only hope that there is someone out there who will pick up where he left off and save not only investigative journalism, but will help save us.