MEDIA
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Despite Dwindling Ratings, Evening Newscasts Remain Profitable

Does any media form seem quainter than the network's evening newscasts? The entire exercise is suffused with the scent of the long-ago. Its better days beg depiction in black and white: hat doffed, tie loosened, Dad nurses his martini, while Walter Cronkite's baritone rumbles from the Philco. The ratings are declining, we are endlessly reminded. The aged audience keeps getting older. Loudmouths have long demanded to have newscasts put out of their misery. Top media executives have plumbed wholesale reinvention.

But the reasons to keep Brian, Charles, and Katie employed far outweigh the arguments for carting their newscasts off to the charnel house. These reasons have nothing to do with notions of quality and public service, and, please, let's not pretend the evening news is rarely a whole lot more than carefully distilled twaddle. But even if the justification hinges on the perversities of the TV business (and even if I am amazed to type these words), this long-derided half-hour still makes sense.

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