SBD/July 27, 2012/Olympics

NBC News' Delegation In London Dwarfs Other Networks; Does That Impact News Judgment?

NBC News has a crew of 450 people, including 25 reporters and its lead anchorman, Brian Williams, in London for the Olympics, and while the net claims covering the event is “such an inherently compelling story that its massive commitment is justified,” critics “see another agenda,” according to Paul Farhi of the WASHINGTON POST. In this scenario, what constitutes “news” seems to “depend on not just who’s playing, but also who’s paying.” ESPN sent “just two reporters to London, plus a handful of blogger-commentators,” while ABC News is “fielding an on-air team of five.” CBS News and Fox News both are “relying on their London bureaus, which have two correspondents apiece.” The differing approaches to covering the Games “may provide an illustration of the forces that sometimes shape the TV-news agenda.” Critics suggest that much of NBC News' Olympic coverage “is driven not by newsworthiness, but by corporate synergy, in which the news division generates stories to heighten interest in NBC’s prime-time Olympic telecasts.” NBC’s rivals indicated that they will “cover Olympic stories as events warrant.” ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Mike Leber: “We’ll neither ignore them nor turn over our entire programming schedule to them.” Farhi notes rival news organizations “privately admit their enthusiasm for Olympic stories is tempered by the fact that the Games are being shown by another network.” They said that too much coverage “could drive their viewers to NBC” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/27). NBC’s “Nightly News” and CBS' "Evening News" both led Thursday's episode with the fallout from Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments on whether London was ready to host the Olympics. The Romney story aired second on ABC's "World News." NBC also featured a report on the progress of the Olympic torch, ABC’s “World News” aired a report on the science of becoming an Olympic athlete and what the Opening Ceremony could look like (THE DAILY).

THIS IS "TODAY": Anticipation for the Opening Ceremony and the start of the London Games dominated Friday's broadcast of NBC's "Today" show. The broadcast began with co-hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales setting the tone and feel of London, with Big Ben chiming for three minutes to signify the first official day of the Games. Michelle Kosinski reported on the Olympic torch’s progress along the Thames River, as it “has been a real point of excitement for people.” The first hour also contained a preview of the Opening Ceremony, a report on the rivalry between U.S. swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, a live interview with David Beckham, a look at Olympic venues and a display of the Olympic medals. The second hour led with a live interview with the U.S. women’s field hockey team. There also were live interviews with First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. triathlete Hunter Kemper along with Olympic mascot Wenlock, former U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson  and Phelps’ mother and sisters. A taped interview with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in the second hour was followed by a live interview with the mothers of gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Live interviews with U.S. boxers Queen Underwood and Marlen Esparza and the U.S. women’s shooting team were among the highlights from the third hour. Meanwhile, ABC’s "GMA" included Bill Weir previewing the Opening Ceremony, while Julie Foudy examined the Lochte-Phelps rivalry and expectations for U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin. "CBS This Morning" featured an interview with Michelle Obama from London (THE DAILY).
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Olympics, NBC

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