The News Or Something Like It

   So NBC, finally brings in their “heavy hitter,” sometime variety show host Brian Williams, (annual salary rumored to run around $8 million) to cover (according to the hype) the storm of the century.  Thing is, they bring him in late in the game, just as the storm is petering out.  So he’s on the air for what?  About 30 minutes before someone realizes it’s a waste of the great one’s time, so he leaves?  Is this the same network that fired 500 staffers worldwide in 09, to try and improve their bottom line?  So now they’re short-staffed and sending highly paid people home early?  I don’t think CNN ever did put the mighty wolfman on the air.  And they still aren’t saying a word about what, if anything, is happening in Philly.  Treating it like a poor cousin, undeserving of all that much attention despite the rising waters of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.  What a joke.  Although they do now have all those great snappy end of days graphics zooming and whooshing across the screen.   We all know how much that means when you’re trying to determine if your loved ones are in danger.  Much better than just giving us the facts.  Or hiring the number of deeply qualified people a real network should have.

Maybe they can’t afford it?  NBC/Universal’s profit for 2010 was only $2.26 billion.  Time Warner showed profits of $2.6 billion.

How refreshing it was to see a few all too brief appearances by some real pros, like Susan Candiotti, Nic Robertson, Harry Smith , Jean Meserve and Candy Crowley.  A bright spot on the anchor side was the decision by CNN to use their more sophisticated International Desk which is far superior to the “360” and “Situation Room” nonsense they normally feed their American audience.  It was a dark day when my satellite service stopped offering CNN-International.

If the network coverage of Hurricane Irene points to anything, it’s the degree to which experienced reporters who care more for journalism than they do about their hair and makeup have been shown the door, leaving us with a seemingly endless chain of 20 and 30-somethings, most of whom haven’t earned their stripes and should never have been promoted to the network level — much less a network anchor desk.  This is not “The View.”  This is network news.  Or it’s supposed to be.

Oh wait, I take it all back.    Now that it’s over, and what’s left of Irene is moving into Canada, MSNBC has just promo’d an upcoming “special” with Brian Williams!   An encore presentation about Hurricane Katrina!  Are they kidding?  I think (although the coverage was so lame that I can’t be sure) parts of New Jersey are still under water from Irene.

Irene, has just torn the East Coast to pieces and MSNBC is showing us a Katrina special on tape?  Couldn’t they at least have brought back Brian Williams (or somebody) for a wrap on Irene?

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Late add:   Just watched the 11PM news on KABC-TV here in Los Angeles.  They had Leslie Miller reporting from Times Square, saying that of all the big cities raked by Hurricane Irene, Philadelphia, was probably hit the hardest with water levels in some areas running 15 feet above normal.

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