Television is a giant, ever-changing smorgasbord of delicacies and junk food for any taste.
For those hooked on sappy sitcoms, a feast. Ditto for game and talent shows glorifying mediocrity. Sports? Name it. Online shopping, gardening, home and body makeovers, yesteryear's movies, entertainment news.
Those with tastes for the meaningful find history, documentaries, C-SPAN, some of it now produced by onetime network news giants with depth and intellect, Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel.
Then there's cable news that, for me, is losing usefulness and stature.
Example: CNN didn't renew the contract of Daryn Kagan, a CNN regular for 12 years and its late-morning news anchor.
Kagan was an all-'round pro: She was a top sports reporter in Phoenix. When CNN added her to the anchor lineup, she fielded any assignment.
(Perhaps some bias here: I met Kagan in Phoenix years ago. I also wrote a 1999 national pet magazine article about her and her two three-legged pet cats, I-Lean and Tripod.)
Personal feelings aside, Kagan was undeniably skillful and glamorous at red carpet Oscar night interviews. Breaking news—fires, air crashes, hostage situations, wars, urban snipers—was a snap. She handily showed her stuff with buttoned-down public officials and sports greats, too.
In her farewell Friday, she showed more class—magnanimity and gratitude about 12 years at CNN.
In recent e-mails, she wrote she's thankful to move on, launching her own "good news" Web site (www.DarynKagan.com) on Nov. 13 with a spirited motto: "One Woman, One Radical Idea—The World Is a Good Place."
She has no inkling why CNN let her go and doesn't dwell on it. My fear: Despite brilliance in live coverage of calamities, cable news is aiming for more viewers titillated by bouncy anchor personalities reading information with flashy graphics and sound to create an all-day image of "breaking news."
I compared my hunch with two news business friends.
Kagan's ex-boss, retired CNN News President Tom Johnson (he was publisher of the Los Angeles Times when I was publisher in Phoenix), grades her 100 percent on 13 personal and professional qualities. He's mystified by CNN's decision, too.
The ex-president of CBS News and part-time Ketchum resident Van Gordon Sauter says in his singularly spicy, mocking way that CNN probably considered Kagan "too old (she's 43), not blonde; she can be replaced by someone younger, dumber and cheaper; she doesn't take ---- from stupid bosses; all the above."
That'll do in the absence of any CNN explanation.