Is modern day television news entertainment … or is it just theatre?

The tasteless wisecrack by Yahoo bureau chief David Chalian at the Republican convention is starting to reveal the “superficiality of the media,” as Susan Zakin labeled it on Huffington Post. TV news is entertainment, and entertainment is TV news. In Chalian’s case, a would-be actor turned news guy.

David Chalian, theatre major.

Fast-talking Chalian, who was not aware that a live ABC News microphone was in his vicinity, remarked that the Romneys couldn’t care less about the toll of Hurricane Isaac. “They’re happy to have a party with black people drowning,” Chalian said, and then cackled with laughter. One of his employers,, wisely and promptly fired Chalian from his job as Washington bureau chief.

Chalian seems to work for a lot of other news outfits, including ABC News and PBS NewsHour. But, in looking into his background, what really jumped out for me is that Chalian also is a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. According to the University’s website, he teaches a Master’s Degree level course in journalism. His Georgetown bio said he “is a graduate of Northwestern University.” That got me curious so I contacted Northwestern to learn something about Chalian’s academic credentials.

“I can confirm that David Chalian earned a BS in Theatre from the Northwestern University School of Communication in 1995,” a Northwestern University spokeswoman told me. “That is the highest degree he has earned from Northwestern.”

Theatre major teaches journalism?

So, if Chalian has an undergraduate degree as a theatre major at Northwestern, what are his academic credentials to be teaching a Master’s Degree level course of study in journalism at Georgetown? I have asked Georgetown that question several times in the last few days. Silence.

Were Master’s Degree students at Georgetown University informed that Chalian lacked the requisite degree and academic credentials to be teaching his Master’s level journalism classes they were paying for? Silence from Georgetown.

Not good behavior, I believe, for a university to omit essential information about a professor’s qualifications. Was it lack of transparency or lying by omission? Silence from Georgetown.

“I appreciate experience, and could understand him teaching undergrads with his work experience and BS, but a Master’s in Journalism studies? No, poor form,” commented an authentic academic with a PhD.

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