Today Show: Right Stuff or Light Fluff?

“Today” / NBC/Universal

I was happy to hear that reality TV stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic are having a baby via surrogate. They’ve had a long (and over-documented) journey to parenthood, with fertility problems and Giuliana’s surprise breast cancer diagnosis last year. They seem like nice people (although perhaps oddly willing to publicize their most personal and painful experiences on national television) who deserve the joy of starting a family.

This is the kind of news you would expect to hear at a family dinner or on a personal phone call from a friend. But in our twisted world where reality stars make their living off sharing intimate details, we might expect to hear it on an entertainment show or Twitter.

Yet NBC promoted the hell out of the “exclusive” all morning, before the sit-down interview with the couple in the 8:00am hour.

Is this the best “Today” can do for news and information? I could see a 30 second voice-over at the end of the news segment, or a live interview with the Rancics on the fourth hour of “Today,” which is dedicated to entertainment and family stories.  But with everything going on in the world, with all the resources of the number one morning show, with the amazing staff that show requires, this tidbit was worth several minutes in the second hour of the show?

It’s just one of many examples of entertainment and pop culture stories taking over news shows. I’m old school because I’ve worked in news since my first college internship in 1988.  Back then, this kind of fluff would never be pitched for fear of ridicule.

But standards have changed and these stories score high ratings so news shows are under pressure to cater to our lowbrow interest in the Duggers’ 20th baby, Mel Gibson’s latest rant, and every Kate Middleton outfit.

I only have 30 minutes to absorb the news before I start my day. I prefer my newscasts to explain world events and introduce me to newsmakers that inspire change. What’s going on in Afghanistan? Tell me the latest medical breakthrough or a great story about teachers.

I hate that complaining makes me sound like an out-of-touch old-timer. I lap up celebrity gossip as much as the next teenaged girl, but can’t we keep it in the pages of People and Gawker?

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2 responses to “Today Show: Right Stuff or Light Fluff?

  1. I never thought that reality tv shows are something overly important. Still I watch them pretty much all, if I have enough time. I had a few favorite during past season but I lost interest because of the job and the obligations.Anyway, very nice blog I will try to visit you some time.

  2. It’s cuz both E! And NBC are now owned by Comcast.