On Saturday's story about the summer movie blockbusters (a breaking news story if ever there was one), a Nightly News graphic identified Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly as Dave "Krager". It would take an average ten-year-old about 20 seconds on Google to find the correct spelling of Karger's name (he has over 300,000 results). Unfortunately, Nightly News doesn't have a ten-year-old on the payroll. What would happen if the Nightly News producers actually gave a damn about getting things right? I shudder to think.
Meanwhile, wasn't it just last Friday that Brian Williams was whining about not having enough time to cover all the week's important news stories? Yet, on Saturday, Nightly News saw fit to devote two full minutes to a story about the hottest summer movie blockbusters. Why on earth would a "respectable" news broadcast air a story like this? One reason is for pure entertainment value. 83% of this story (1:40 out of 2:00) was comprised of movie clips. This was just a way for the Nightly News producers to feed entertainment fodder to their viewers. One more example of how Nightly News is morphing into Access Hollywood. The producers know that the viewers would rather watch movie previews than actual news stories (who cares about Ratko Mladic?). If the producers give the viewers what they want, Nightly News gets more viewers and higher ratings. But there is a more important reason why the producers aired this story. A total of seven movies were featured. Two of them--"Fast & Furious 5" and "Bridesmaids"--are Universal releases. And the other five movies all have a connection to Universal Studios theme parks. Universal Studios Hollywood features the monkey from "The Hangover Part II", and a display of some of the sets from the new "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" (which was partly filmed there). A "Transformers" ride is scheduled to open at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore later this year. The Singapore park also features Po from "Kung Fu Panda". And of course, Universal Studios Orlando is making tons of money from their "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park. So every single movie featured in this Nightly News "news story" has some promotional value to NBC Universal. Are we supposed to think this is a coincidence? Of course not. The Nightly News producers created this story as a way to promote their parent company's films and rides. Too bad Universal Studios doesn't have a "Horrible War Crimes of Ratko Mladic" ride. Then Nightly News might actually spend some time promoting--I mean reporting--that story.