Monday, June 16, 2008

One Man’s Death: News Coverage Gone Overboard

First of all, I will preface this blog by extending my sympathies to the family of Tim Russert, who was NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief and also was the host of NBC’s Meet The Press. It is always heart breaking to lose a member of one’s family, especially so suddenly. Having my own family members who have died, both suddenly or after lengthy illnesses, I know it can be hard to accept.

What I take exception to is the over-the-top coverage on the part of NBC News and MSNBC, who seemed to cover Russert’s death to the point of ignoring all other news in the country or world. I understand their shock, and their belief that Russert made a huge contribution to their network. There is no doubt that he did, as evidenced by the wall-to-wall coverage on MSNBC and the same on NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. But let’s be realistic here, we aren’t talking Walter Cronkite here, who probably would deserve such coverage but would probably find such behavior vulgar.

While NBC and MSNBC were busy covering the death of one man, the people of Iowa were fighting widespread and devastating flood. Yet, one would think that there was nothing else going on in the country or the world more important than Russert’s death. To make matters worse, a lot of the coverage was to allow those who worked with or were friends with Russert recount stories about him. It was like an endless eulogy, but at least one could escape it by changing the channel.

The news shouldn’t become the news, and if it does, they should cover themselves with impartiality, humility, and restraint. While I believe the network did right by acknowledging Tim and celebrating his life, I think they did terribly wrong by ignoring other news in the country, specifically the Iowa flooding. Let’s hope the NBC and MSNBC can move on, and quickly.

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samfan said...

I totally agree. I mean I do feel sorry for the Russert family but, don't go overboard on the coverage. Good post

Anonymous said...

Overboad, for some perhaps, but then again no one is stopping anyone from switching the channel to CNN or that bastion of the subtle Fox News. I, for one, thought the cover was appropriate given that the man was the backbone of NBC News and MSNBC. He was a young man and beloved by his friends and collegues. After tonight, you won't hear a word about Tim Russert and we'll go back to business as usual. More Paris, Angelina and the rest of the ho squad.

God speed to TR. He certainly made the world a better place.

Tonight he's casing The Promised Land.

Anonymous said...

It's the day after the service and it is still being talked about.

I agree with the Frequent Critic. I don't get the extensive coverage. I suppose that if one knows the right people in Washington and NYC that makes one more worthy of attention. Me, I feel bad for the people in Iowa who were pretty much ignored.

ABC didn't go so overboard when Peter Jennings died, and he was just as prominent. Sad that it seems that TV values its own people above all else.

I am sorry for the Russert family as well, but I don't think it warranted the coverage Tim's death received.