Howard Rosenberg, [See Biography ] retired media columnist of the L.A. Times, fortunately, doesn’t have the time to while away the days on his front porch, reflecting on his 25 years as television critic at one of the largest metropolitan dailies in the United States.
The reason? Since leaving the Times in 2003, one of newspaper’s most outspoken critics has been much too busy writing ``Not So Prime Time: Chasing the Trivial on American Television’’ , an anthology of his columns, along with `` No Time To Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle’’ , a book published in 2008, which he co-wrote with former CNN reporter Charles S. Feldman. The book chronicles the frenzied nature of presenting television and cable news at break-neck speed, which, in reality, often isn’t all that newsworthy and isn’t always accurate. Just consider CNN and Fox News inaccurately reporting President Obama’s health care law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and you pretty much get the gist of the book and why it’s considered by many to be so prophetic.
Rosenberg has also entered the halls of academia at the University of Southern California, where he teaches three courses--news ethics in the Annenberg School for Communication, along with critical writing and a TV symposium in the School of Cinematic Arts.
He’s actually been teaching at USC as an adjunct since 1991, but since leaving the Times, he’s taken on more of load. ``Although there are frustrations’’, Rosenberg tells me, ``I like teaching nearly all of the time and have a deep affection for students. The money is adequate, the fringes great and having summers off is to die for.’’
During his flourishing journalism career at the Times, Rosenberg was a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for television criticism in 1985; he was also named the nation's best television critic in a 1996 survey of his colleagues conducted by Electronic Media; and in 1995 was named one of the nine national media critics "with clout" by the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University.
Prior to landing in Southern California to work for the Times, Rosenberg reported for the Moline (Ill.) Dispatch, later as a reporter and television critic for the Louisville Times. His journalism career was launched soon after he earned his master’s degree, and secured a position as editor of The White Bear Press, a weekly on the outskirts of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Though he left the newspaper business on his own volition, (he wasn’t pushed out, laid-off, or forced to take a buyout) while fortunate enough to take an attractive pension and considers himself financially secure, Rosenberg knows a number of excellent top rate journalists not so fortunate who have been thrown overboard by their newspapers, for the usual crummy reasons, and remain adrift with no good prospects. ``It saddens and sickens me’’ Rosenberg says.
Rosenberg attributes most of his good fortunate since leaving the Times to pure luck. ``I had a high-profile job for a high-profile paper in an urban setting that offered probably more media-related opportunities that are available in most other places.''
Happy to be living a second life away from the stress of looming deadlines and beating competitors to the punch, Rosenberg admits he misses, at times, not being able to vent his pent-up frustrations through the medium of a newspaper column. ``If I ranted to my students’’, Rosenberg deadpanned, ``they'd rebel and throw their iPhones at me. Instead, my wife takes the full brunt--day and night--and it's not pleasant seeing her head explode.’’
The former Times’ critic did try to get back into the swing of writing a monthly column for Broadcasting Magazine and a monthly commentary on media for the L.A. Times in 2008, but gave them both up because he no longer wished to face deadlines, even monthly ones.
Rosenberg’s passion is now writing mystery fiction and is on this third novel, but says ``no one yet is swooning over my genius.’’ His sharp wit remains intact.
A native of Kansas City, Rosenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Minnesota.
He and his wife, Carol, live in a suburb of Los Angeles with a cockatiel, and two cats.
July 18, 2012