Monday, October 6, 2008

NBC More of the Same with Few Fresh Sprinkles

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.

Interview Tradition -- Only One Gets Left Out
The week started with interviews of both presidential candidate (September 30, 2008) -- a good, consistent trend in NBC's reporting. The videos are both roughly six minutes long, keeping the balance of face time for McCain and Obama.

After we have heard from Governor Sarah Palin on ABC and CBS, maybe she wants to complete her network trilogy with a visit to NBC? And if she doesn't, can that be interpreted as network discrimination? And why does no one want to do an extended interview with Sen. Joe Biden?

Quantity and Quality on the Weekend

Rather an exception, NBC Nightly News churned out five videos online over the weekend, which is quantitatively an improvement for weekend coverage but qualitatively only offered more of the same detailing the new mudslinging between the campaigns and polling results poured into visual elections maps.

The most interesting report was uploaded on Saturday, October 4, 2008 -- a rare piece comparing the candidates on a specific issue surfaced online: It’s about abortion. The report as part of the Where They Stand ( series details John McCain’s intent to overturn Roe v Wade and Obama’s support for Roe v Wade and women’s “reproductive rights.” With the likelihood of one Supreme Court justice being replaced during the next president’s term this ruling might be at risk – depending on who wins.

Maybe NBC continues on this track of basic reporting to give the viewers concrete comparisons between the campaigns' approaches to issues like gun control, death penalty, technology policy, funding for science, environmental issues other than global warming, and communication law.

Sunday's best offering drew attention to local Republican incumbants' struggle to win their districts despite being Republican, a nice break from the federal fights.

More Hanoi Please
NBC took the user to Hanoi for about three minutes to highlight even part of what is probably the best know part of Senator John McCain's biography. In interviews with Vietnamese who helped McCain during the Vietnam war, this video reinforces McCain’s identity as POW but also gives a glimpse into current Vietnam.

It would have been great to expand this report into a longer feature about contemporary Vietnam and the young generation. Since foreign countries usually only enjoy attention in connection with something U.S. related, this opportunity should have been used to shed more light on a country which played a big role in U.S. history (and has been intermittently cited as a metaphor to the war in Iraq): What are the hopes of young Vietnamese, how is their economy doing, what are current politics, social trends, and concerns?

Female Kaleidoscope
In an interesting four minute video with up-beat background music, Luke Russert discusses the Palin effect with students from the all women’s liberal arts Bryn Mar College. The story was a varied kaleidoscope of half a dozen young voters’ opinions ranging from “Palin showed so much respect to Joe Biden” to “a lot of the ridicule she gets stem from the things she says.” So, when do we get a perspective on Joseph Biden from an all men’s college?

Unfortunately NBC didn’t detail a date for a couple debate related videos including the otherwise neat vox pop piece. What happened to one of the fundamental journalistic Ws? Sure, the debate videos were supposedly produced during the debate but for future reference it won't hurt to put Oct. 2, 2008 into the thumbnail pop-up window that otherwise gives only general information.

Plus, I still haven't seen any video on NBC during my watch with information about third party candidates. They belong to U.S. democracy, too and as long as they are not reported about by the networks, the networks aren't fulfilling the function of journalism to mirror reality.

Here's a start: Third-Party Candidates Gather In Show Of Unity

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