If you haven't been watching Nightly News lately, here are a few things you may have missed:
*During the intro to the lead story on the economy, the graphic to the right of Ann Curry read "UPs & DOWNS". The "s" in "UPs" was lower case, but in "DOWNS" it was upper case. Why?
*Nightly News presented its second consecutive story about "America's newest singing sensation"--a 10-year-old girl who appeared on NBC's "America's Got Talent". These stories were nothing more than promos for an NBC entertainment show.
*During a story about an Iowa girl who drowned when her car was caught in a flood, an on-screen transcript of her call to the police had the heading "9-1-1 Call". During an Aug. 4 story about a Connecticut man who killed eight co-workers at a beer distributorship, an on-screen transcript of a wounded employee's call to the police was given the heading "911 Emergency". For the drowning story, they used hyphens, but for the shooting story they didn't. It should also be noted that in the Aug. 4 story, the way the 911 call was transcribed in the intro at the top of the broadcast was very different from the way it was transcribed during the actual story about the shooting. Here's how the transcript appeared during the intro:
Hollander: "I Need The Cops Here, Hartford Distributors, Right Away, Shooting"
Operator: "What's going on? Who got Shot"
Hollander: "Somebody Got Shot, I Got Shot"
And here's how the transcript appeared during the story:
Steve Hollander: I need the cops here at Hartford Distributors right away...shooting.
911: What's going on? Who got shot?
Steve Hollander: Somebody got shot. I got shot.
The two transcripts are very different. During the intro, the 911 operator was identified by the Nightly News producers as "Operator". During the story, she was identified as "911". During the intro transcript, all statements by the 911 operator and the caller were in quotation marks. During the story transcript, no quotation marks were used. During the intro, the caller was identified as "Hollander", during the story he was identified as "Steve Hollander". During the intro, all of Mr. Hollander's words had the first letter capitalized. During the story, only the first letter of a sentence and proper names (such as "Hartford Distributors") were capitalized. During the intro, the 911 operator asks, "Who got Shot?" During the story, she asks, "Who got shot?" During the intro, there are no periods at the end of Mr. Hollander's sentences, but during the story, periods are used. And during the intro, three commas are used in Mr. Hollander's first sentence, while no commas and one ellipsis (...) are used during the story. It's bad enough to have inconsistencies like these from one day to the next, but to have them occur in the same day is inexcusable. It's like no one at Nightly News is paying the slightest bit of attention to what they are doing.
*During a story about new rules for bank overdraft fees, the phrase "OPT-IN" uses a hyphen, while "OPT OUT" does not.
*During a story about racial slurs used by Dr. Laura Schlessinger in an exchange with a caller, the Nightly News transcript of the conversation has the caller saying N-word (no quotes, but with a hyphen) to refer to the slur. But the transcript of Dr. Schlessinger's apology the next day has her saying "N" WORD (the letter "N" was in quotes, but no hyphen was used). Also, the transcript of Dr. Schlessinger's conversation with the caller uses lower case letters (except for the first letter of a sentence or proper names), while the transcript of Dr. Schlessinger's apology uses all upper case letters. Again, this is horribly, horribly inconsistent. Again, none of the Nightly News producers are paying any attention to what goes on the air.
*During a story about the flooding in Iowa, an on-screen transcript informs viewers that Ron Allen is reporting from "Aimes, IA". The correct spelling is "Ames". On Aug. 5, an on-screen graphic informed us that Ron Mott was reporting from "Metarie, LA". The correct spelling is "Metairie". I guess the Nightly News producers took the first "i" from Metairie and gave it to Ames. Maybe some day they'll tell us why.
*During a story about the Alaska plane crash that killed former senator Ted Stevens (and four others), an on-screen graphic identified Deborah Hersman as the "NTSB Chairman". On Friday, Hersman was identified as the "NTSB Chairwoman". So which is she?
*Viewers were treated to a 2:45 "news story" about food trucks in L.A. and other cities. Maybe the Nightly News producers should have put a "Breaking News" banner across the screen.
*An obituary for newspaper columnist James J. Kilpatrick included a Saturday Night Live clip of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin doing a parody of the "Point-Counterpoint" segments that Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander used to do on 60 Minutes. It can be said with certainty that Nightly News never would have aired the obituary for Kilpatrick if not for the opportunity to include a promo for SNL. Sadly, this is what Nightly News has become. The producers air certain stories solely as a way to promote other NBC properties. Last Wednesday's "news story" about the new Johnny Carson website was simply a way to promote Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon. (Not to mention that NBC almost certainly makes some sort of profit from the sale of Carson DVDs.) And Sunday's story about violence in Chicago was just a promo for a Dateline story that would be airing later that night. And let's not forget the two stories Nightly News aired last week to promote "America's Got Talent". This is just business as usual for the Nightly News producers.