Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A Spoonful Of Sugar
Brian Williams and the Nightly News producers should be ashamed of themselves for wasting our time with the endless parade of "Making A Difference" segments they've been presenting this past week under the title "Acts Of Kindness". Asking viewers for story suggestions is the basest form of pandering. It's the oldest trick in the book. Make the viewers feel connected by making them feel as if they have a say in what goes on the air. We see it every week on "American Idol". It is absolutely not the job of a producer or managing editor to attempt to balance the bad news with these warm-and-fuzzy stories. The news is what it is. NBC should be reporting the most important stories of the day. Period. They shouldn't be manipulating the news to try to make it seem more palatable. I'm reminded of that song from "Mary Poppins": "Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down". We don't need a spoon full of sugar when we're watching the news. And what actual news stories didn't NBC report this past week because they were so busy force-feeding us these silly "Making A Difference" segments? Nightly News reports precious little news as it is. Is NBC going to compensate the viewers for the 15 minutes that these MAD segments have taken up over the past week? Of course not. And on top of that, NBC is profiting from these stories. Five of these six segments (so far) have been sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline products. So Nightly News has earned a significant amount of money ($250,000? $500,000? $1,000,000?) from these segments. Let me get this straight: The viewers submit the story ideas and Nightly News gets the cash. Sweet! But I have to admit that it hardly seems appropriate for NBC to be sucking sponsorship money from stories about acts of kindness. That's sort of like profiteering, isn't it? As Mary Poppins might say: NBC isn't being very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.