Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Brian Williams Show

It is appalling that Brian Williams devoted more than three minutes of last Thursday's Nightly News broadcast to the death of John Finn. Even by the broadest possible definition of the word, Finn's death was not news. Unfortunately, Brian doesn't understand the difference between a story that's important, and a story that's important to him. In fact, it seems that Brian doesn't really understand the function of an evening newscast, nor does he understand the role of an anchor/managing editor on such a newscast. The function of an evening newscast is to present the most important stories from across the country and around the world in the too-short time of 22 minutes each night. And it is the responsibility of the anchor/managing editor (along with the show's producers) to select the stories that are important enough to merit air time. But on a regular basis, Brian Williams fails to live up to that responsibility. Instead of airing the most important news stories, he chooses to air stories about people or things he likes, as well as stories that are specifically intended to attract a large audience (higher viewership translates to higher ad rates). The title of the program is Nightly News, not "The Brian Williams Show". If Brian wants to air stories about his departed friends (or about Springsteen, Bono, Bon Jovi, Will Ferrell, skateboarding bulldogs, pink dolphins, blind dachshunds, kazoos, dancing in high heels or how much students like to hug each other) he should get his own show on MSNBC. I'm sure NBC News President Steve Capus would give Brian his own show. In fact, that would be great. It would give Brian an outlet to show the dozens and dozens of hours of non-news material that Nightly News airs each year. That would free up a significant amount of space on the broadcast to carry actual news. Last Thursday, Nightly News did not report a single story from Asia, Europe, Africa, South America or anywhere outside the U.S. But we got three minutes on John Finn, because he was Brian's friend. Although Brian is the anchor, the broadcast is supposed to be for us. It's time he started treating it that way. Brian Williams needs to reevaluate his priorities.

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