In The Middle with NBC, Then and NOW

I suppose I was destined to become a fan of NBC news programming because Channel 4 had a better signal than did Channel 2 (a local news we actually preferred but had trouble seeing clearly), and because they had several five-minute updates dropped into their all-day game show lineup which was the soundtrack of my childhood.

Edwin Newman’s somber delivery and authoritarian voice would punctuate episodes of THE WHO WHAT OR WHERE GAME or THE MATCH GAME and he became as much of a familiar face as any emcee.  He ultimately took over that role on stage during the short-lived DAVID LETTERMAN morning show, where he had an opportunity to show off his wit, diverse interests and intelligence in a looser format, and spent the last 30 years of his life as a prolific author, frequent talk show guest and was fortunate enough to make more than a few bucks doing so.

So I became an NBC news default viewer, both national and local.  John Chancellor and Tom Brokaw vs. Cronkite and Rather for me.  Chuck Scarborough any time I could watch him (and he’s STILL going on WNBC-TV!!)  MSNBC on cable.  And on my phone, I get most of my news these days from the team at NBC News NOW.

NBC News NOW is a FAST channel that is rapidly taking on a greater level of prominence and importance in the Comcast family.  Last week a daily version of MEET THE PRESS announced it was moving there, joining an established lineup of shows that one day turned up in my You Tube algorithm and caught my eyes and ears with their casting, pacing and objectivity.   A day doesn’t go by where I don’t consume at least several of their long-form newscasts, as well as breaking news stories that get dropped as events warrant.

Like most online iterations of news, they skew younger than traditional news programs, so I accept the fact that the anchors are almost invariably under 40, a little overeager at times, and their approach to stories can be, to me, a bit guilty of “wokeness”.  Their coverage of COVID-19 invariably includes medical experts from urban hospitals, often women of color, who take the Fauci-like approach of reinforcing statistics, pleading for people to continue to vigilantly wear well-fitting masks and look out for the vulnerable.  Coverage of the overturning of Roe and the baby formula shortage is clearly from the perspective of a target audience more directly affected than am I, again featuring commentators who reflect the demography of its likely target audience.

What I feel personally is secondary, as I strongly feel it is essential to understand all sides of a story and immerse yourself into a world other than your own in order to fully grasp it.  NBC News NOW, much like the broadcasts of its ancestors, does that brilliantly and with an imaginative style.  Hallie Jackson’s nightly report, with its gripping and captivatingly urgent strings-laden theme, is wonderfully paced and informative.Joshua Johnson is more compelling here than he was in in his more mundane NPR career.  Tom Llamas and TOP STORY demonstrates why he was stolen from ABC News. I also get expanded content and the linear NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and it’s the first time I’ve become a regular “viewer” of the show since the days of Chancellor and Brokaw, and he has, to me, proven to be a worthy successor.  And yep, I get both the legacy and new daily version of MEET THE PRESS too.

While I may not necessarily retain all the facts that flow in and out of my head, I do retain enough that it balances the more extreme narratives I also keep tabs on.  I identify with elements of truth for all sides of issues and could devote dozens more columns for why.  I’ve rambled on a few previously; sometimes my more passive friends think I’m falling down a rabbit hole.  Recent reports have suggested that more than 40 per cent of Americans have suffered some sort of mental health crisis as a result of pandemic isolation that was often the result of overexposure to media.  The young man who shot up a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo Saturday was documented as to being an example of that detachment.  Rest assured I’m not capable of doing that.  I don’t log on to Reddit, I tend to avoid discussions on either end of the aisle and frankly I listen to way too much sports to get dragged down any rabbit hole.  (Shameless plug: if you haven’t yet found my other blog, TheDoubleOvertime.Com, which focuses exclusively on sports, please do so.  As we finally get back to some semblance of normal seasonality, that world’s heating up, as is the frequency of my writing.  I’d love for those of you who haven’t yet discovered it to check it out as well).

So no rabbit hole for this bunny.  Thank NBC News NOW, and posthumously Ed Newman, for that.

Until next time…

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