Monday, January 23, 2012

Shame on NBC

Today I offered my sixth grade Geography students 3 extra credit points if they watched and took notes on the Republican debate from Florida.  We covered Iowa and New Hampshire in class and students found the process and the campaign quite interesting. (Note: I'm also offering extra credit in conjunction with the State of the Union address tomorrow).  "Tune in at 6 pm on NBC," I said.  I thought the debate had the opportunity to be quite newsworthy.  Many pundits attributed Newt Gingrich's primary win in South Carolina in part to his debate performance in the CNN debate.  I tuned in to my local NBC affiliate, KING-5.  There was Brian Williams.  However, he was introducing the nightly news.  NBC was delaying the debate 3 hours!  I was astounded.  On Twitter, Nate Silver and Chuck Todd (2 members of the "elite" media) were offering witty remarks on the opening remarks from the candidates.  Okay, I could watch on my computer.  But what does it say about NBC's priorites that it would choose not to air the event live on its largest platform, which is NBC proper?  Or that it doesn't even bother to show it live on MSNBC?  To me it indicates that NBC considers the debate entertainment and not news.  If they considered it news, it would be shown live.  In this age of Twitter, of instant information, a debate shown after the fact is old news.  It's not fresh.  People comment about news now through social media as it happens.  NBC doesn't tape delay its football games (though it does the Olympics--don't get me started on that).  NBC should not air debates with national interest on a tape delay basis.

Students, if you tried to tune in to the debate at 6:00 and couldn't find it, I apologize.  Because NBC is choosing to air the debate at 9:00, you probably won't be able to watch it, as you'll be heading to bed.  Here's how you can earn the 3 credit points: Write a letter explaining your displeasure.  Explain who you are and what the assignment was.  Expain why you were interested in watching the debate.  If you were frustrated by not being able to watch the debate, describe your feelings.  You can address your letters to:

Mark Ginther
King 5 News Director
333 Dexter Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

Brian Williams
NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

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