Saturday, December 18, 2010

R.I.P. Accuracy

In his 1/27/10 Daily Nightly blog post, Brian Williams bragged incessantly about personally writing the obituaries that appear on Nightly News: "I think it's safe to claim that of the three network evening broadcasts in our time slot, we air the most obituaries. To me, it's a source of enormous pride...In our newsroom, it's well known that I write the obituaries. I put as much care into writing them as I do the items at the very top of the broadcast, where wording and tone and facts are absolutely critical...When I write an obituary for the broadcast, I always have the family in mind. It's not why we do them, but they are an important audience. I try to envision people I don't know, dealing with the raw, initial sadness of loss...and I try to imagine how it must feel to hear of a family member's life and legacy—in the hands of a journalist who didn't know their loved one personally."

Give me a break. What a load of crap. Pride? Care? What about accuracy? On Thursday, Brian read obituaries for director Blake Edwards and pitcher Bob Feller. In the Edwards obit, Brian said, "He gave the world its first glimpse of Bo Derek in the movie '10'". Wrong. Bo Derek made her film debut two years earlier in the 1977 movie "Orca". During the Feller obit, Brian said, "He played almost his entire career...with the Indians." Actually, there's no "almost" involved. Feller spent his entire career with the Indians--he did not pitch an inning for any other team, either major league or minor league. Is this what Brian meant by putting care into writing obituaries? He doesn't even care enough to get the facts straight. I hope that whoever writes Brian's obituary pays more attention to detail than Brian does.

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