Open Letter to NBC on How To Fix the TODAY SHOW
To: Whom it may concern at NBC’s the Today Show,
RE: How to Fix the Today Show
Below are a series of thoughts on how to save the sinking ship known as NBC’s Today Show.
Stop Reporting about yourself. Reporters are not the news. Reporters do not make the news. Reporters inform the populace on the news by gathering facts and sharing them with us, especially in the 7am to 9am slots. Nobody wants to hear what Matt Lauer did for Thanksgiving. Nobody cares about the self-gratifying montage sequences that the Today Show prepares to showcase what happened on the Today Show set to the latest songs owned by the NBC Universal library of approved pop music. Nobody cares about a backstage tour of your own studio. You are not the news. You are not celebrities. You only get to talk to celebrities.
Show some class. We are in the midst of an economic crisis. We are all tightening our belts and thinking long and hard about every penny we spend. When The Today Show broadcasts ridiculous excess such as “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” or “Field Trip Friday” those of us in the world that can never afford to go where Matt Lauer goes can come to resent Matt Lauer… Furthermore, I saw a segment recently called “Matt’s Day with Led Zeppelin.” Was the title even necessary? It further twists the I’m-not-as-lucky as Matt Lauer knife, because the rest of America will never spend the day with Led Zeppelin. Just do the story. Don’t rub the story in.
Stop being a 4 hour commercial – The Majority of The Today Show segments act as a commercial for NBC/Universal films, music, TV programming and affiliate programming. Out of the 4 hours on the air each day, how much time is typically devoted to other NBC programming? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? I’ve seen mornings where it was in excess of an hour and a half. During the Olympics, the entire 4 hour program is devoted to the Olympics, which airs on NBC channels, which NBC sells advertising on… The way that NBC treats an NBC episode of The Voice or America’s got Talent as if it is news is insanely ridiculous. That is not news. Edward R Murrow is changing the channel in journalism heaven now. He’d probably watch Newsroom on HBO instead. That fictional show gave us more cold hard facts than the Today Show.
Keep it moving - The interviews, particularly with celebrities, are borrrrring and lacks any journalistic approach. Softball questions like “Tell us about your movie premiering this week…” or “Where do your ideas come from…” “How do you find the inspiration?…” are rampant. It is obvious that the present celebrity is there to promote whatever film, album, TV show or book they have hitting the theaters or store shelves that week. Try this. Actually See the film. Read the book. Listen to the song. Then as a ‘Journalist’ you might actually discover that you have a question worth asking. It is called research. People can’t really do it for you. You need to understand the context of the questions that are written for you by the Today Show Army. Earn your insanely inflated salaries. And if you can’t handle that, then just keep the interviews short and sweet.
Stop covering Viral Videos as if they are news – I don’t care that Charlie bit his brother’s finger. I don’t care that some guy proposed to his wife with a magic trick. I don’t’ care that a bus of high school kids danced to Call me Maybe. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter if a video gets 5 million viewers. Skip all you tube videos. There is no news there. You tube exists for one purpose; It wastes our time.
Stop covering Tweets as if they are news. An uncensored celebrity in 140 characters or less is amusing, because the publicity and management team is no longer able to filter what their self-important uninformed out of touch with reality clients say, but it is not news.
Drop ‘the Professionals’ – The segment is pointless. Instead, grab four random people off the street to discuss a real issue every day for four minutes. Give each of them 1 minute. That would be really interesting, and it would give Joe Shmo from off the street the chance to get on TV for 60 seconds. He’s tell that story for the rest of his life.
The Royals…. I don’t know what sort of payola deal NBC has with the UK Royals, but this is America. We cut our ties with the Royals when we sent George III a Dear John letter. Yet, the Today show feels the need to cover every move of the Royal Family. Why? Please tell me why.
Lastly I think it is time for an anchor change. Don’t you feel that Savannah Guthrie has been there a little long?
She’s been there less than a year?
Maybe it is time to get someone new in the OTHER seat.
In closing, Today Show, If you adhere to these 9 very simple guidelines I’ve laid out for you, you’ll have a successful show. I promise.
NBC Executives, if you’d like more input, I’d be open to discussing salary anytime. I’m a mere 15 minute commute from midtown, and would love to run a morning talk show. I’d be very good at it. You can find me here at email@example.com.