Three weeks ago Ann Curry left the Today show. Three weeks ago, I stopped watching the Today show, a show I have watched my entire life.
She was fired, allegedly, for failing to connect with the audience and for lacking chemistry with Matt Lauer. Shouldn’t trustworthiness be revered more than likability when it comes to journalists?
Curry, a very good journalist (in my opinion) was fired from her journalism job for her on-air personality, or rather lack thereof. In her uncomfortable goodbye she said “For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball over finish line, but man, I did try.” Wait, what? Why is Curry apologizing for getting fired? A woman who landed a live, on-camera interview with the Dalai Lama is apologizing to the American public for not being liked enough by the American public. Does this seem right to you?
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In an effort to be aware of the world I live in, my average day would involve Today, amNew York, Metro, NPR, Brian Williams, the New York Times and the 11pm news.
Looking at it all written out, it’s perhaps too much. If I took one news brick out of my information wall, would it crumble? Would I be less informed? Without Metro, amNew York and the 11 o’clock news I’d miss out on local stories. Without Brian Williams I’d miss out on special interest pieces. Without NPR and the Times I wouldn’t know what was going on globally, plus they both cover culture well, and differently.
Then there’s Today. Pulled out of the equation what would I miss? What did I say to friends and colleagues after I started a sentence with, “On the Today show today…?”
That sentence rarely ended in any sort of scoop and rather often ended in mocking. Why was I wasting my own time all those years? At its best, Today is info-tainment, and at its worst it could fill in for Access Hollywood in the evenings without skipping a beat.
During Lauer’s contract negotiations a few months ago there were rumors flying that Ryan Seacrest would replace him. Take a moment now to imagine Seacrest breaking news of a terrorist attack. Ridiculous, right? Or in this day and age is that not actually all that ridiculous?
Today airs from 7am to 10am during the week. The 10 o’clock hour hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb is a separate topic for another time. At seven, eight and nine, the hardest news, including weather, airs at the top of the hour for about 10 to 15 minutes. There are short breaks for local news every half hour. The rest minus advertising is fluff. Fluff in the studio. Fluff on the plaza. Al Roker in seersucker.
But we, the Today audience watch all that fluff, religiously. Why? To be informed? To be entertained? To have familiar voices talk at us in the morning? Who are we? What have we become?
In episode three of The Newsroom, fictional anchorman Will McAvoy apologizes to the News Night audience for not informing and educating the voting electorate. He admits he took a dive for ratings.
Curry shouldn’t be apologizing to us for getting fired. Fictional newsman McAvoy shouldn’t be apologizing to us for not reporting well enough. We, the American audience, should be apologizing to ourselves. We haven’t set high enough standards for what we allow into our homes. We deserve to be informed. But more importantly we should want to be informed. We are failing ourselves by being indifferent and apathetic.
We should demand more than fluff in the morning. We should champion Ann Curry for bringing as much hard news as she could to Today and taking risks to report her stories. We should hold news people accountable for the stories they write. We should be outraged Matt Lauer reportedly makes $25 million a year. We should stop being so lazy.
What we don't seem to understand is that we are the ones really in charge. We can organize and demand things. We can boycott. If a big enough group of us stops watching something, advertisers won't want to spend their money buying ad space and a show will buckle.
If we change, if we take a stand, networks might actually have to listen to us. Imagine who might listen to us next! I’m looking at you, politicians.
I’ve switched over to CBS in the mornings. Charlie Rose hosts from a round table there because if he didn’t the earth’s orbit may actually change. I already got to witness a scoop last week when Stevie Nicks casually confirmed Fleetwood Mac are getting back together. Later in the day I told some friends about it. It was refreshing.
Yvonne Penzakov is trying to figure her life out. You can follow her on twitter while she does that.