Monday, October 27, 2008

NBC Increased Quantity for Same Quality

by Stine Eckert

For this blog I concentrate on NBC's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

Similar to last week the number of video clips about the U.S. election campaign has been high in number: The politics section of the NBC Nightly News online player is currently featuring election campaign video only. If a Martian would look into the list, it would think there is nothing else happening in the country. Isn’t there a current administration still working? Ah, of course, it’s this Bush person who we only hear about in connection with...the election! In an October 24, 2008 video we briefly can see the President Bush voting for his successor.

For quality not a whole lot has changed, there is the detailed campaign trail coverage, who is where when saying what; the polls get their prominent share of attention and so do red-blue-yellow map;, issues are discussed marginally even the economy has moved somewhat to the back burner.

A Complete Trilogy -- McCain/Palin Interview on NBC
Finally the trilogy is complete and Sarah Palin has honored the third of the broadcast networks with a seven minute interview uploaded October 24, 2008. Brian Williams did a nice job in staying on the question of when she is going to release her medical records after she tried to evade the question for the first time. To his second direct question on this issue she replied: “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I had five children, that’s going to be in the medical records. I’ve never been seriously ill or hurt, you’ll see that in the medical records IF they’re released.” There you go, Brian.

The other part of the interview included John McCain who spoke about his underdog position. In the same joint interview session Sarah Palin defines who is a terrorist, and both voiced their reaction to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.

John McCain: “I know that if General Powell had wanted to meet Governor Palin, we could have arranged that easily. […]”
Sarah Palin: “You received the endorsement of four former secretaries of state…”
John McCain: ”Five former secretaries of state.”
Sarah Palin: “Five, and hundreds of top military brass.”

Early Voting Nationwide
This October 24 report wraps up the early voting movement nationwide. With programs such as “vote & vacs” people get flu shots while doing their duty as citizens in a participatory democracy overall boosting voting records. By the way, President Bush and his wife have already voted, too.

Why A Palm Tree in the Background Is Not Enough -- A Rather Useless Live Shot
By now most people following the campaign coverage know about Barack Obama's family. Surprisingly, even his grandmother got some coverage this week as the senator flew to Hawaii to pay her a visit because she is ill. But also NBC’s Lee Cowan hurried to Honolulu: with water, wind, and a palm tree in the background, he mainly commented on a bunch of photos and some short video of Barack Obama boarding a plane. It is interesting to see how travel budgets for journalists are allocated for a few seconds of live scenes that say nothing but “I was here.”

Where They Stand On Free Trade & Homeland Security

Two more pieces haven been added to NBC’s Where They Stand collection, an October 24 video on free trade and a comparison on the candidates stance toward homeland security of October 26.
NBC’s short clips of about 2 ½ minutes give brief overviews complete with bullet point lines. It’s good to see that issues still do play a role.

Voting in Nevada – A Republican State Gone Toss-Up

The Daily Nightly blog added some interesting background information about Latino voters in Nevada and other states ending on the note that Latin Americans feel if Obama wins, a Latino might, too in the future.

Another state in the focuse... a four minute report examined the swing-y state Colorado, which just as NBC’s toss up report was over seemed have decided for Obama (as according to the same sources has Virginia reducing the number of undecided states from eight to six).

But like NBC’s anchor Lester Holt put it: “Of course all of this could change between now and election day.” That’s another reason why concentrating on the issues is more useful to voters (i.e. serving the public) than clicking the refresh button every second on polls and maps.

Sideline Issues -- Ted Stevens and International Attention
At the sidelines Republican Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven accounts of giving false information about free gifts worth $250,000 he received, most of it connected to renovating Stevens’ house.

Looking into the international mirror: Foreign journalists report about the U.S. election including France and Al-Jazeera.

Confusing Dates

Especially with the McCain/Palin interview I noticed an annoying feature of online video clips. Albeit the NBC Nightly News player is kind enough to give a summary of the video and a date when mousing over the thumbnail (unlike undated CBS Evening News clips) I've always wondered what the date stands for: the time of uploading or the time the event took place (that didn't seem to work out some clips). Video clips sometimes lack meta information about when an event happened if it is not mentioned within the video. Occasionally no date is listed at all and there is no anchor to guide you.

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