Here's what happened on NBC Nightly News this week:
Tuesday--For the second consecutive day, Nightly News did a story about the new Spider-Man play on Broadway. Together, these two stories provided three minutes of free publicity for the show. The main purpose of these stories, of course, was to plug the Spider-Man 3-D ride at Universal Studios in Orlando (owned by NBC Universal). And also to give more air time to Brian's pals Bono and The Edge (who wrote the play's music and lyrics). Meanwhile, at one point during the story, Anne Thompson stood in the middle of Broadway with some passersby singing the song from the old Spider-Man cartoon. I guess this is what passes for journalism at Nightly News. I'm surprised the producers didn't put a "breaking news" tag on the story.
* Brian did yet another story about a military father home from Iraq or Afghanistan who surprises his son by showing up unannounced at the son's school. Over the past few years, Nightly News has done at least ten of these stories. And they're all exactly the same. Dad surprises son at school. How many more of these will we have to endure? And how much real news did Brian ignore in order to bring us this "news story"?
* Brian informed us that the Saints' Drew Brees was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Apparently, Brian feels some sort of proprietary obligation to report any story that is even peripherally connected to New Orleans because he wants to appear as if he has some sort of special fondness for that city. Meanwhile, Brian didn't report that Brees chose Katie Couric to introduce him at the SI awards banquet. Obviously, Brian is devastated by the fact that Brees likes Katie more than him. And the greatest irony is that Katie didn't even bother to report this story on the CBS Evening News--because she understood that it isn't really news (and also because she's not narcissistic like Brian, who always makes sure to tell us when he's presenting an award). But any story that involves New Orleans makes it onto Brian's broadcast. Someone should tell Brian that Brees was born and raised in Austin, Texas, played college football at Purdue and played for the San Diego Chargers before the Saints.
Wednesday--In a story about unemployment benefits, Kevin Tibbles told us that four million people will lose their benefits at the end of 2011. To illustrate this point, we were shown a calendar of December 2011, with a big red "31" popping up at the end of the month. Unfortunately, the big red "31" pops up on the 30th, not the 31st. Well, at least they were close.
* In a "Making A Difference Story" about a woman who collects and distributes dresses for needy children around the world, Chris Jansing told us that, "Three years after scribbling in her journal, Rachel O'Neill looks around and is amazed." But a few moments earlier, a close-up of O'Neill's journal clearly showed the date of 11/22/06--which was four years earlier, not three. Perhaps Jansing needs to brush up on her math skills. But there may be another explanation for this discrepancy. It's possible that this story was produced a year ago and sat on the shelf since then. When it finally aired on Wednesday, the producers neglected to update Jansing's voice-over.
* Twice during this broadcast, Brian told us about the "world famous Christmas tree" at Rockefeller Center (he also mentioned it twice on his blog this week). Okay, we get it. There's a tree at 30 Rock. I guess Brian is hoping to get some sort of award from the NYC Department of Tourism.
Thursday--On his Daily Nightly blog, Robert Bazell wrote about a type of gastric weight loss surgery called "Lap-Band" (a copyrighted brand of the Allergan company), which reduces food intake. Bazell referred to it as "Lap Band" (without the hyphen). Detail is important in journalism.
Friday--During his obituary for Ron Santo, the Chicago Cubs' All-Star third baseman in the 1960's and 1970's, Brian told us that Santo was "a five-time golden glover". Someone should inform Brian that the Golden Gloves is a boxing tournament. The award Rawlings presents to the outstanding major league fielder at each position is called the Gold Glove Award.
* How ironic that Brian should report on President Obama's trip to Afghanistan (which was almost certainly done to prop up the President's sagging poll numbers). Like the president, Brian's trips to Afghanistan are for the sole purpose of improving his Nielsen ratings.
Bonus Flashback--On Nov. 23, Brian reported a story about the demolition of the Philadelphia Spectrum, the long-time home of the Flyers and 76ers. This was a mundane event that was hardly newsworthy. However, the Spectrum was owned by Comcast, NBC's soon-to-be owner, which explains why Brian included this story on the broadcast. It also gave Brian an excuse to show a photo of his idol Bruce Springsteen, who had played the Spectrum. Never mind the fact that Cream, The Doors, Yes, Pink Floyd, The Who and The Grateful Dead also played there (the Dead played there 53 times, more than any other act). For Brian, it's only about Springsteen.