In Friday's New York Times business section (May 1), we were treated to the following quote from NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker in a story about the relative merits of Hulu vs. Youtube: "Advertisers have made it clear that they want a safe environment unpolluted by videos of cats on skateboards...That has made Hulu the pre-eminent video site." It's obvious what Zucker was referring to. Last January 1, Nightly News devoted two minutes and twenty-five seconds of news time to a pair of skateboarding bulldogs. Clearly, Zucker's quote was intended as a comment on that Nightly News story and on Nightly News in general. Not surprisingly, Zucker doesn't like what he sees on Nightly News. And why should he? No one likes to be fed a steady diet of fluff stories devoid of news value. Since Zucker understands that advertisers (and viewers) don't want videos of skateboarding cats (or dogs), why does he allow Nightly News to get away with airing these types of stories?
Which makes me wonder how Zucker felt about Thursday's Nightly News, when Brian Williams devoted more than a minute to a dancing parrot and the new tattooed Barbie, while neglecting to even mention the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka or the election in India. I'm guessing that Zucker didn't exactly tell Brian Williams or the Nightly News producers that they should be proud of their work.