Navel-Gazing At A Bad Time

I’ve spent about two to three days trying to figure out how to articulate this properly without coming off as dismissive of the late Tim Russert of NBC News: looking at his resume and reading obits (and even writing some off info for a newscast) has been a fascinating look at his career, and despite personal quibbles about certain aspects of his work, he still appeared to give a shit about his job and cared to do the work, often appearing on TV six or seven days a week while serving as NBC’s Washington bureau chief.  There’s a ton that has to go into that, and I respect that. May you rest in peace, Mr. Russert.

But there is a such a thing is overkill, and I have the feeling that NBC crossed a line, starting with Tom Brokaw’s announcement of the news on Friday afternoon, both MSNBC and the NBC news programs that aired on the broadcast network (Nightly News and Dateline) were both completely dedicated to Russert, as if nothing else had happened during the day that ought to get in the way of mourning a respected journalist, colleague, and friend.

The problem is that there was, and still is something that supersedes Russert’s unfortunate passing — damn near an entire state is underwater.  Not that they haven’t been covering it before and didn’t cover it afterwards, but just look at the pictures from the Des Moines Register and tell me dedicating all your news programming to one man is the right editorial decision to make.

Maybe it’s because I went to college in Iowa, not too far from some of the really flooded areas (thankfully, the campus and everyone around it is only suffering from the storms and flooded basements), but NBC’s decision seems awfully short-sighted and myopic. There is a reason people express such dissatisfaction with the media on a regular basis, and I can’t help but believe that decisions like this are why people are turning their TVs off, claiming those of us in the industry are out of touch.