Saturday, August 7, 2010

NBC Nightly News Show Notes Aug. 3-6

Here's what happened on NBC Nightly News this week in case you missed it:

Tuesday: Nightly News did yet another story about obesity in America. They do the same story over and over and over again despite the fact that there's no new information on the subject. Robert Bazell began his report by saying, "One way to look at obesity--in ten years the number of Americans who undergo obesity surgeries has skyrocketed almost tenfold to a current 220,000 a year. There is no mystery why." Bazell seems to think that an increase in obesity surgeries automatically means there has been an increase in the number of Americans who are obese. This is faulty logic. Bazell never considers the fact that over the past ten years, obesity surgery has likely become more effective and less expensive, resulting in more people having the surgery. That is what generally happens as medical procedures improve over time. Bazell's assumption is faulty--it would be like saying that the increase in laser eye surgery means that Americans' eyesight is getting worse.

Also on Tuesday, during a story about how the Gulf oil spill is affecting children in the region, a social worker named Donna Usner is identified by an on-screen graphic as "Joe Jimenez".

Wednesday: In a story about the shooting rampage by a disgruntled beer-truck driver in Connecticut, we are shown an on-screen transcript of the 911 tapes. The transcript identifies the 911 operator as "9-1-1", but immediately after that it shows her starting the phone conversation by saying "911". Is it 9-1-1 or 911? Nightly News has misspelled plenty of words, but here they manage to misspell a number.

Also on Wednesday, during a story about the gay rights ruling in California, we are shown an on-screen transcript of Judge Robert Walker's ruling. The transcript reads in part, "Prop 8 makes it no more likely that opposite-sex couples will marry and have children." But when Pete Williams reads this part of the ruling, he says "raise children" instead of "have children". He also says "proposition" instead of "prop". What makes Pete Williams think he can change the judge's exact words? Does Williams know better than the judge?

Thursday: At the beginning of a story about the safety of Gulf seafood, an on-screen graphic informs us that Ron Mott is reporting from "Metarie, LA". The correct spelling is Metairie. (The graphic at the end of the story spells the name correctly. If the Nightly News producers can get the spelling right once, why can't they get it right twice? Well, it's nice to know that at least one person is awake in the NBC newsroom.)

Friday: Nightly News ran a story about Koua Fong Lee, who was released from jail after serving 2 1/2 years of an 8-year sentence when his Toyota crashed into another car and killed three people in 2006. An on-screen transcript of statements made by Lee included the following: "Its (sic) a long time, a really long time and they don't know me." The "its" at the beginning of the sentence should have been given an apostrophe ("it's"). And Lee actually said "a very long time", not "a really long time".

Also, during a story about the flooding in Pakistan, we hear a volunteer say, "When the flood came here from the start, only the local support organizations supported these people." But the accompanying on-screen transcript reads, "When the flood came here from the start, only the local organizations supported these people." The transcript omitted the word "support". This is sloppy, sloppy work by the Nightly News producers. In other words, business as usual.

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