PROGRAMS ON MEDIA--Uh oh, more of those.The...

PROGRAMS ON MEDIA--Uh oh, more of those.

The public may be growing weary of media self-flagellation and people-don’t-like-us-anymore torch songs, pretentious, guilt-cleansing confessions in which we tell everyone how good--but more often bad--we are. Then we reveal our true arrogance by ignoring our own lessons and going off and committing the same sins again.

They watch us. They hear us. They read us. They know how good or bad we are. The public probably knows more about us than we know about ourselves.

Yet the press is such a muscular, pervasive and controversial institution that additional scrutiny couldn’t hurt. And an occasional “Viewpoint” on ABC is probably not enough.


That’s especially so in light of Ted Turner’s pending attempt to acquire CBS and conservative charges that the media are teeming with liberal termites eating away the foundation of American society.

Media in Nashville are one focus of an NBC News program titled “A Portrait of the Press, Warts and All, by John Chancellor,” airing Saturday at 10 p.m. (Channels 4, 36 and 39). Billed as a personal essay-documentary by the thoughtful Chancellor, the hour program will examine how America views journalists and whether we are “arrogant,negative, biased, overly ambitious and sometimes even venal.”

And don’t leave out dumb.

Chancellor and a camera crew spent time in the newsrooms of several daily newspapers and TV stations recording the news-gathering and decision-making processes behind the stories that are presented for public consumption.


It’s not only the boys and girls on the City Hall or White House beat who are taking a beating from critics, meanwhile. Foreign reporting also has taken a shelling.

And that is the focus of “The Military and the News Media,” an hourlong PBS program due at 10 p.m. Thursday on Channel 28 (also airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 50 and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 24). This is a sort of war game in which field commanders and field reporters and top brass and editors clashover media coverage of a hypothetical military intervention in a fictional Central American nation. The program was taped last winter at Princeton during a two-day gathering of legal, military and media experts, including Chancellor. Harvard Law School professor Arthur Miller is the moderator.

Hypothetical and fictional. That’s exactly how some people characterize the work of the media.