Thursday, October 19, 2006

A not-so-colorful peacock

Brian Williams may not have anything to worry about. He’s consistently been ahead of his former NBC News colleague Katie Couric and ABC’s Charles Gibson in the ratings game. But other NBC newsers are probably feeling a little anxious tonight. NBC News announced that it will be cutting its staff by more than 200.

Our co-workers over on the print side of things have been facing glum announcements like this for decades—circulations have dwindled and publishers have cut jobs. But wasn’t broadcast news the sector that was growing?

Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker don’t think so. In this Wall Street Journal article Wright and Zucker acknowledge that they see a limited growth potential in the news division.

So how’s a rookie reporter supposed to feel?

On one hand I could be optimist. Perhaps NBC just bit off more than it could chew. There’s the regular NBC News programming—Today, Nightly, Dateline, etc. And then there’s all the other channels MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, etc. When’s the last time you found yourself going to MSNBC? That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m really curious what MSNBC does well.

But on the other hand, the “Universal” colossus seems to be more interested in churning a profit than covering news. How is one supposed to remain inspired?



At Sunday, October 22, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

This is the latest but not the first time a network news operation has announced substantial layoffs.

As the NBC business model evolves, all parts of the organization are fair game. There were 5 hours of "Dateline" broadcasts per week in primetime just a couple of years ago. Today there is one hour. Rumor has it that much of the "Dateline" staff will migrate to MSNBC to replace failed talk shows and some of the news programming there.

I think there will be plenty of electronic news jobs available in the future in network, cable and local television and also in the nascent world of broadband.

I think a rookie reporter should feel like there's a whole new industry waiting to be defined. It's a thrilling prospect (really)!

At Monday, October 23, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

Since my earlier post, I came across a Q&A with Jeff Zucker at about all this.

The substance of his thoughts seems to be: "...there's going to be growth in news, it's just going in other places. It's online. It's wireless..."

The guy must be brilliant--his thoughts match mine!


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