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Ellerbee & 'Broadcast News'

January 16, 1988

Linda Ellerbee's article about "Broadcast News" (" 'Broadcast News'--And So It Really Goes," Jan. 11) was as pointless and shallow as "And So It Goes," her book about her adventures as a television journalist. The article, like her book, is no more than fragments and scraps masquerading as insight.

Like Jane (Holly Hunter) in the movie, Ellerbee takes an earnest stand against the decline of quality in television news, using its emphasis on entertainment rather than substance as evidence. A shell-shocked victim of the medium, Ellerbee praises "Broadcast News" for its truthfulness and remains oblivious to its greatest flaw.

Caught up in the movie's simple romance and readily accepting its premise that television news warrants serious consideration, few moviegoers will question why "Broadcast News" completely fails to probe the most obvious option for its main characters: abandoning their careers in television altogether.

Clearly, this would be the noblest course of action, but following it would validate the notion that television is little concerned with quality and nothing more than a voracious corporate maw hungering only for higher ratings and larger profits.

All of this high gnashing about journalistic integrity in a medium that consistently fractures public discourse into so much amusing trivia seems silly, vain and naively self-important.

Ellerbee's hiatus in the hills of New England "to try to forget about broadcast news for a while" has done little to sharpen her critical faculties. So what if "Broadcast News" shows television as it "really" is?

I find it difficult to be enthusiastic about something that has captured the collective imagination, deadened effective communication and, for all its enticing charm and variety, castrated our ability to truly see.

PAUL VANDEVENTER

Alhambra

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