Saturday, March 6, 2010
During the 17 days of the Vancouver Olympics, Nightly News devoted 129.5 minutes of news time to Olympic-related stories (that total would have been higher if NBC had not pre-empted Nightly News for the gold medal hockey game on the final Sunday of the Games). In the weeks before and the days after the Olympics, Nightly News devoted an additional 30.75 minutes to Olympic stories. That's a total of 160 minutes of valuable news time given over to Olympic coverage. Two hours and forty minutes. That's the equivalent of more than five entire half-hour Nightly News broadcasts. But because a Nightly News broadcast is actually only 22 minutes long (after the commercials are factored out), 160 minutes is really equal to more than seven full broadcasts. When is Brian Williams going to compensate the viewers for the 160 minutes of news he deprived us of? When is he going to bring us the news we never got to see because Nightly News was too busy acting as a promotional arm of NBC Sports? The answer, of course, is never. We will never get to see those news stories. They are gone forever because Nightly News was too busy "reporting" on Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller and Shaun White and Apolo Ohno. Sadly, the one Olympic-related story that Nightly News refused to report was the one about Vancouver's drug-infested Downtown Eastside slum (a New York Times article about this area can be viewed at www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/sports/olympics/05eastside.html). Nightly News would not report on the slums of Vancouver because it didn't fit in with the image of the Olympics that Brian Williams wanted us to see. Shame on Brian and his producers for sweeping Vancouver's slums under the rug. And shame on them for depriving Nightly News viewers of 160 minutes of news.