Friday, June 19, 2015

Does it mean much that one-time Channel 2 news anchor Holt now the big guy at NBC's prime newscast?

I kind of got a kick out of the way I learned the latest in the Brian Williams/NBC News saga that he is no longer the face of the evening newscast and has been permanently replaced by interim news anchor Lester Holt.

HOLT: From BBM to natl. newscast head
I woke up Thursday morning and started the day with a few minutes of Robin Meade at CNN’s Headline News channel, where the one-time anchor of WMAQ-TV’s morning news segments told us all of how Williams was “demoted” to MSNBC and how Holt, the former WBBM-TV news anchor, now has the top broadcast position at his television network.

IT SOMETIMES SEEMS like one can’t get away from Chicago no matter how much they may try.

But back to Holt, who hasn’t worked in Chicago television for 15 years. But he did leave a memorable presence on the CBS station back when he worked in Chicago – helping to keep the channel’s news presence alive in those years AFTER Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson completed their domination of the Chicago news scene.

He even left his image on our city proper.

I found it amusing when I had to do a day of jury duty back in February that the Cook County Sheriff’s police continue to use a decades-old video featuring Holt, as he explained to us exactly what a jury is and what would be expected of us if – by chance – we were picked to be on a jury and asked to render a verdict on some poor schlub who theoretically is among our peers in society.

THAT VIDEO LOOKED like it had seen better days; having been played over and over and over again throughout the years since Holt had left Chicago – even though the basic message hasn’t changed one bit.

WILLIAMS: Was he really demoted?
But now, Holt has moved up to the top of the broadcast news scene – being in charge of what is supposedly the top priority newscast that NBC puts on each night.

He has the same job title that David Brinkley, John Chancellor (himself a former Chicago Sun-Times reporter-type person) and Tom Brokaw once held.

Yet I don’t know that anyone views Holt’s job as being anywhere as prominent as the role those men once held.

THE FACT IS that fewer people tune in to a scheduled newscast to learn news – preferring the notion of being able to tune to a news channel for 20 minutes or so at a time to get a jolt of information about what is happening in society then tuning in to whatever entertainment program it is they’d really rather watch. Just think of all the odd-hour newscasts our local television stations have created for those who can’t wait until 6 p.m.

MEADE: Is she now more prominent than Holt?
It may be that people seriously interested in news are still turning to the newspapers with the declining circulations – which could show that fewer people are seriously interested in “the news.”

So what should we think of this latest move – brought about by the fact that corporate officials felt the need to demote Williams without actually firing him. That would have brought too much shame to the network.

I’m not going to get too worked up over what Williams is alleged to have done – the whole account of whether he exaggerated his experiences while reporting in Iraqi war zones. It is proof that the memory is flawed.

I ALWAYS GET concerned anytime I have to write copy about some past event based off my own memory of it, rather than being able to look through the files of notes and old clippings I have accumulated during the past three decades. Invariably, some of the details are off. (Insert premature senility gag here).

So Williams is no longer on the network proper, but he’s now a reporter-type for MSNBC, the cable channel – which in some circles may actually be regarded as a promotion of sorts. A more prominent spot that gets watched by some, rather than an evening newscast whose timing isn’t convenient for people who want a fact or two right now!

Holt from the old days lives on in Cook County jury rooms
Holt winds up getting the allegedly prominent post when it no longer means as much as it used to.

And in Chicago and suburban Cook County, at least, some people are bound to stumble across the NBC Nightly News in coming weeks and say to themselves, “That’s the guy from the jury duty video. What a mustache he used to have!”


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