Media Blog

Brian Williams on Blogs

Some excerpts from a recent Brian Williams addres to the NYU School of Journalism:

The Nightly News attracts between 10 and 11 million viewers each night. But the playing field for prime-time nightly news is in constant motion, with NBC, CBS, and ABC jockeying for the top slot in the ratings game. The tremendous growth of online media — especially blogs — in recent years has altered the face of journalism.
“You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe,” said Williams. “All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.”

A modem? Williams is worried about bloggers with dial up?

He added that it’s often difficult to judge the credibility of a blogger. “On the Internet, no one knows if you’ve been to Ramadi or you’ve just been to Brooklyn and have an opinion about Ramadi,” said Williams.

Yes, almost as difficult as a major network figuring out that an anti-George Bush memo was written using Microsoft Word….

Williams is certainly not anti-blog — in fact, he has his own blog, The Daily Nightly, which he updates every day. But he does worry that the explosion of opinion-driven amateur media might distract the public from big stories or important writers’ work.
“If we’re all watching cats flushing toilets, what aren’t we reading? What great writer are we missing? What great story are we ignoring? This is societal, it’s cultural, I can’t change it. … Like everybody else, I can burn an hour on YouTube or Perez Hilton without breaking a sweat. And what have I just not paid attention to that 10 years ago I would’ve just consumed?”

Big stories, like this NBC News video of Posh Spice coming to America:

Sunday, July 15

Bush remains firm on Iraq

al-Maliki: Iraq able to secure country

Another deadly day in Pakistan

L.A. Archdiocese under pressure

Harry Potter didn’t affect literacy

China’s field of dreams

Beckhams: Coming to America

Williams acknowledged, if a journalist doesn’t embrace new media, he or she won’t be around for long. Williams cited the example of a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer who was fired recently because he refused to start a blog.
“It seems to me that if I’m in print and everything around me says ‘updated seven minutes ago,’ I’m going to want to also have been updated seven minutes ago, if not six,” said Williams. “He or she who doesn’t adapt dies.”

Not a very good prognosis for the 6:30 news, is it?

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