Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nancy Snyderman Is Dr. Cliche

Can someone please tell Nancy Snyderman to stick to medical stories? She's adequate at reporting stories about SARS or Swine Flu, but when it comes to non-medical stories, she sounds like a college journalism student reporting on a cable access station. Her Sunday "Making A Difference" story about a man who repairs and restores children's books was one of the most ridiculous and frivolous things I have ever seen on Nightly News. Of course, like all MAD stories, it did not contain a shred of actual news and did not belong on a news broadcast. But even worse--almost everything Snyderman said sounded like it came from "The Really Big Book of Bad Journalism Cliches". At one point, Bill Strong (the man she profiled) recited a favorite quote of his: "The hands, those precious, wonderful instruments, ask for some creative occupation." After he said this, Snyderman lovingly cupped his hands in hers and said, "Your hands--these hands. These are honest, good hands." Is she kidding me? And when she said that, she had a rapturous look on her face like she had just won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Or something even more important to her--an Emmy. I wish Snyderman was sitting next to me while I was watching this story, because after it was over I needed some strong anti-nausea medication. Let's hope that nobody sues her for journalistic malpractice. And I love how Snyderman made sure to tell us that Strong has been donating his services to the Princeton Public Library. That's admirable, but she neglected to mention that for all other customers, Strong's fee is $40 an hour (according to his website). Fair enough--he's entitled to charge for his work. But by intentionally omitting this fact, Snyderman was attempting to deceive us into thinking that all of Strong's services were donated free of charge.

I almost fell out of my bean bag chair when I heard Lester Holt (Saturday) and Brian Williams (Monday) mention the ongoing violence in Ivory Coast. After four months of ignoring Ivory Coast, this can mean only one thing: George Clooney must have gone there. But before anyone starts thinking that Nightly News has undertaken a new commitment to reporting important international news, it should be noted that Sunday's story on the Eagle Cam was longer than either Lester's or Brian's report on the situation in Ivory Coast. And speaking of the breaking news Eagle Cam story, it's pretty obvious that Nightly News viewers are going to get a lot more eagle news in the coming days. After all, last August, we were treated to two separate stories (totalling 4:10) on the Owl Cam. And on the subject of eaglets, it's not uncommon for the eaglet that hatches first to kill one or both of its siblings in order to increase its own chances for survival. Lester neglected to mention that fact. But I'll bet everyone at Nightly News is rooting for that to happen so they can show us one of those sad, emotionally wrenching "nature-can-be-so-cruel" stories that the NBC research geeks have indicated are extremely popular with viewers.

Can someone please buy the Nightly News producers an atlas? During Saturday's story about a police officer who was killed in Omagh, Northern Ireland, a Nightly News graphic identified the town as "Omagh, Ireland". There is a big difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Perhaps the producers think that Northern Ireland is just a region, like Northern France or Northern Italy. It's not. If they don't understand the difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland, then they don't belong in the news business.

During Richard Lui's Sunday story about sex slaves in America, he told us that this problem existed in at least 25 states. But the accompanying map showed only 24 states highlighted. So which state wasn't given credit for their sex slaves? And by the way, with stories like this, is it any wonder that people think Nightly News is exploitative and sensationalistic?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I'm the book repairer's son. Just saw the video -- I agree, the "honest, good hands" kinda hit me in the stomach too. Regarding your other point, I gotta put my two cents in on Dad, though -- she didn't mention the 100 books he's repaired for a profit, but she also didn't mention the 10,000 books he repaired in the community college library before he moved to Princeton and got started in the public library (yeah, he keeps track). No opinions on the Nightly News: none of our families own TVs. I guess that's part of the reason the networks have no money left over for research.