Friday, December 04, 2009

Memo from NBC News boss covers everything but Tom Brokaw's car crash

The workweek ended in a big way for NBC News. Tom Brokaw's involvement in a fatal three-vehicle accident in the Bronx, neatly encapsulated and his lack of culpability established in his own instant press release, came five years after Brian Williams took his seat at NBC Nightly News, a year after David Gregory took over from Brokaw's role filling on Meet The Press for the suddenly-departed Tim Russert, and days after Comcast sealed the deal to buy NBC and its news division from GE.

The Brokaw tragedy took place too late in the day to be included on NBC News President Steve Capus' peptalk memo to the troops:

December 4, 2009
A Message From Steve Capus

Lots of news to acknowledge this week.

Regarding the Comcast deal, as I have said to several of you over the past couple of days, I am so happy that its out and we can finally talk about it. I appreciate how all of you managed to keep focused over the past couple of months during the feeding frenzy of speculation over the future of NBC Universal. Thank you for that.

I feel really good about this new partnership. Comcast has tremendous respect for this news division, evident in this quote that ran yesterday in the New York Times coverage: "NBC News is a national treasure whose independence we all value and we will always respect," David L. Cohen, a Comcast executive vice president. I'm excited about the opportunities ahead and the future of this news division.

I can not emphasize enough: every aspect of this news division is of great value to NBCU and our owners. NBC News is a success story that first and foremost respects the traditions of this great news organization - understands and appreciates what our audiences have come to expect from us - and is built around talented and dedicated employees who help us to run successful business ventures, grounded in journalistic excellence. That is what makes us the premier news organization in the country and it's gratifying to be viewed these ways during such critical times.

While I have had the chance to talk with many of you, I will have the opportunity to talk with the entire news division worldwide over the next week, stay tuned for details on that. In the meantime, I encourage you to go to this website and learn more about a New NBC Universal.

I promise to keep you informed in the coming months as we go through this regulatory period -- and please, as always, send any questions to asksteve@nbcuni.com.

This week we celebrated the five-year anniversary of Brian Williams in the anchor chair at "Nightly News." While it seems like yesterday he took the reins, its still staggering to reflect on the breaking news he's covered, the countries he's traveled, and the stories he's told us over the past five years. Stability - performance - excellence... we've come to expect it on a nightly basis - and Brain and the NN team have delivered. This anniversary comes at a time when "Nightly News" continues its rating dominance and bucking the trend exhibiting year-to-year growth. I encourage all of you to read the LA Times' profile on Brian below - it captures our friend spot-on.

Next week we'll celebrate David Gregory's one-year anniversary as moderator at "Meet the Press." I'd be hard-pressed to find a transition that was more daunting than this one was, but still executed so successfully. David has steadily made MTP his show, and he has fended off the competition in an extremely competitive landscape. I am so proud of the work that David, Betsy and everyone at MTP does week in and week out.

Also of note: Season-to-date, TODAY has widened its advantages over both GMA and Early Show in homes, total viewers, rating W/A18-49, and rating W/A25-54 compared to the same period last season.... MSNBC's coverage of the President's Afghanistan decision this week was first rate. Keith Olbermann's special commentary was particularly provocative. Rightly so, it became part of the national debate on these important matters... The Grio.com launched a great series on unemployment in African-American populations... and MSNBC.com hosted a cross-media summit, in an ongoing effort with News Sales to maximize online and TV special sales projects.

We have a lot of holiday gatherings over the next couple of weeks, try to have some fun and hope to see you on the 14th.

Thanks for a great week.


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