Analyzing NBC Nightly News

I’m fairly aware of the controversy surrounding Brian Williams and his departure — err, suspension— from his post at the Nightly News at NBC. To be blunt, the whole situation reminded me that broadcast news exists.  Though I rarely watch broadcast news — I believe it’s often sensationalized and can take events out of context too easily — I’ve always been a fan of Williams.

Charles Sykes/NBC

Charles Sykes/NBC

Because of this, I decided to tune into the Nightly News’ Feb. 23 broadcast, with Lester Holt in William’s vacated spot. Realizing I had no means to watch cable news, I checked out NBC’s website, where they have full episodes of the night’s broadcast. (Which, for a millennial like me, was great.) Here’s what the show covered:

1. Terror Group Calls for Lone-Wolf Attacks at Mall (2:40)

This story continues on one trending throughout the week. Al Shabab, a Somali terrorist group responsible for the attacks on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, threatened western malls in a recent video. The correspondent expands on their coverage earlier, updating it with a White House comment calling the video “propaganda.”

2. Homeland Security Shutdown Looms Amid Terror Threats (1:33)

3. Nightmare Winter Conditions Drag on for Much of U.S. (3:10)

Yes, it’s cold. And especially snowy in Boston. Despite this obvious fact, the Nightly News expanded upon this, taking the story to Texas, where the state is struggling to adjust to the inclimate conditions.

4. New Hope for Kids Who Suffer from Peanut Allergies (0:30)

5. Kayla Mueller Family: U.S. ‘Waited Too Long’ To Rescue Hostages (4:33)

Noted as an NBC exclusive, Savannah Guthrie sits down with Mueller’s family and Holt sits down with her after clip is shown.

6. Outdated 911 Technology May Put Callers at Risk

NBC News Investigation partnered with Gannett and found that 60 percent of 911 calls can’t be located immediately. The presentation was fairly dramatic, but understandably so. It’s a much-needed story.

7. Single Mom of Four Claims $188 Million of Powerball Jackpot (:30)

8. Remembering Iwo Jima 70 Years Later (:30)

9. Academy Award Speeches Turn Political (2:02)

Focus on Academy Awards not necessarily on the who won, but rather the political preoccupations and soap box-esque speeches presented by the winners. Additionally, it touched on the lack of diversity represented in the nominees.

Screenshot from NBC website

Screenshot from NBC website

Overall, I believe the Nightly News presented a well-rounded broadcast. My one qualm — aside from my bias against broadcast news — was the order of stories were presented in. Since no breaking news was presented in this broadcast, I found it strange the network didn’t do more to promote their exclusive stories even more so by jumping them to the number one and two slot.

While the terrorist threats against U.S. and other countries’ malls were incredibly important to cover, viewers may already know about them. Though the well-prepared, packaged content was informative, it did not tell my anything I couldn’t look up on Twitter or any other media outlet’s site. Now, an exclusive on a lack of 911 technology? That’s something I would’ve enjoyed learning earlier in the broadcast.

Though broadcast news is often sensationalized to gain and keep viewers interested (just watch the 911 callers clip above), networks must also realize the niche markets they exist in. I’m still interested in their uniquely packaged content, but why not promote something original and investigative, rather than regurgitated news from an already 24/7 news cycle?


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