Saturday, November 6, 2010

Manifesto--Part II

In Manifesto--Part I (Oct. 23), I listed the changes I would make if I were in charge of Nightly News. Here are the specific changes I would make regarding Brian Williams:

1) Stop saying "good evening" to every single correspondent. It sounds forced and ridiculous. (Pete Williams is my hero--he never says "good evening" back to Brian.) Also, stop describing every single correspondent as "my friend". I doubt that's true and it's irrelevant to the broadcast. "My friend Lester Holt." "My friend Tom Costello." This is supposed to be a news report, not a reading from Brian's Facebook page. Finally, stop describing correspondents as "our own". "Our own Anne Thompson." "Our own Rehema Ellis." Of course they're your own. Who else's would they be? It's only necessary to note when a reporter is from a news agency other than NBC (such as Canada's CBC or Britain's ITN).

2) Stop saying "folks". Brian uses this word constantly. "The folks at NASA...." "The folks in Wisconsin...." Apparently, the NBC News Research Department has informed Brian that using "folks" makes him sound more homespun and blue collar. It's a marketing gimmick, nothing more. He should use "people" instead of "folks". It sounds less affected and less phony.

3) Stop saying "For those of us". This is Brian's favorite expression. "For those of us who follow the Supreme Court...." "For those of us who love American cars...." "For those of us with kids in college...." This is simply a way to for Brian to change a news story into a news story about him. It is narcissistic and egocentric.

4) TMI. Stop inundating us with personal information. We don't care about Brian's kids or his dog or his Aunt Tilly in Buffalo. He thinks we like hearing about his personal life. Just read the news.

5) There's no brick wall behind Brian. If Brian wants to do stand up (or sit down) comedy, he should go out to the comedy clubs. But Nightly News is not the place to hone his comedy skills. His desperate attempts to be funny are just forced and awkward. If we want to see funny news, we'll watch The Daily Show. Or FOX.

6) Stop talking about being a buff. Brian constantly brags about being a Supreme Court buff, a presidential history buff, an American car buff, an aviation buff, a NASA buff, a music buff. If he were any more buff-y, he'd be a vampire slayer. This is just Brian feeding his massive ego. We don't need to hear about it.

7) Stop pandering to every city. Brian describes every city or state as "great". "The great city of Chicago." "The great state of Missouri." This is just shameless.

8) Stop bragging about ratings. Brian never misses an opportunity to brag about his broadcast's ratings or the ratings of other NBC shows. It's unprofessional and egotistical.

9) Shorter intros, please. Brian's intros to stories often run 30 seconds or more. This is ridiculously long. Obviously, Brian likes to hear himself talk, but how about shaving 15 seconds off the intros and using that time for more reporting on the story?

10) Interviews should provide actual information. Brian's interviews are often just softball questions tossed at subjects to allow them to say whatever they want. He should be more aggressive and challenge his subjects. It's okay to repeat a question or interrupt someone if they are being vague or evasive.

11) Stop pandering to the military. Brian never met a uniform he didn't drool over. He acts as if he is the propaganda minister for the U.S. military. His fawning, obsequious stories have no credibility because they lack any shred of journalistic objectivity.

12) Stop talking about Medal of Honor winners. Brian serves on the Board of Directors for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, so he thinks it's his duty to report it every time a Medal of Honor winner dies. This is not news. It's just Brian reporting about his hobbies. If he served on the board of the American Plastics Council, Brian would be doing two or three stories each week about the great new innovations in the field of plastics technology.

13) Stop plugging sponsors. Brian never misses an opportunity to mention McDonald's or Coke (or some other sponsor) during one of his news stories. These are just shameless plugs for regular advertisers.

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