Local TV

David Gregory: Mainstream Media and Proud Of It

Says at NAB confab that Washington, with the aid of the media, has splintered 3/02/2010 06:54:50 PM Eastern

Meet the Press moderator
David Gregory says "mainstream" media has become a "term of
derision," and he doesn't like it.

Talking
to broadcasters in Washington Tuesday at a National Association of
Broadcasters' annual state leadership conference , Gregory suggested
that Washington, with the aid of the media, has divided itself into disparate
streams that eschew common ground.

The
theme of his talk, loosely, was community. That included the community
broadcasters can create with the Olympics, the kind of appointment TV
broadcasters do well. But he was also talking about the community spirit that
seemed to be lacking in Washington. "There is no sense of common cause or
common purpose," he said, and "no willingness to compromise. "

He
suggested that the current media climate has made it easy for people to seek
out only the news that fits their views. "We see in our media as well such
a polarized environment that there is this connective tissue on the left and on
the right to bond everyone together in a national way. So, you can seek out
familiar viewpoints on demand. You can go throughout your whole day in your
news consumption cycle without really hearing any contrary points of view to
what you believe. And it has led to a very difficult environment in
Washington."

He
cautioned against misinterpreting the ease with which information can be
accessed or disseminated to the weight it should be accorded. "Sometimes
we forget how big and vast the country is," he said. "I got on
twitter early on and have a lot of followers. I'll go on there sometimes, though
I will try to stop doing this now because you read several pages of venomous
attack and you think: "maybe I won't do that next week.' But you can also
get trapped into thinking, 'Oh, yeah, this somehow represents what is really
going on out there." And I'm sorry, it doesn't. It represents a sliver of
what is going on."

During
a Q&A session following Gregory's talk, a broadcaster in the audience
suggested network news execs themselves might be guilty of only looking at a
sliver of the country. He said one of the issues he had with networks,
particularly as they continued to shrink, is that the decisionmakers had a
world view limited by their schooling in the "Boston-to-Washington
axis." Covering issues of faith, for example, was one place where they
"had no concept of this reality of the rest of the country."

The
broadcaster asked whether NBC was doing anything to "stop and realize that
they have to look outside the small cocoon that they see as normal."

Gregory
said the point was important, but one that could be "overmade." He
said he thought NBC was doing a good job in its political reporting of covering
"both ends of the spectrum" and had made "pretty good strides
absorbing and reflecting different points of view."

Gregory
conceded that the point about being East Coast-centric was valid, but he also
said that NBC tries to keep in mind the "multi-background point of view
that has to enter into our decisionmaking about what we cover and how we cover
it."

While
he said broadcasters have made big strides in becoming multiplatform
distributors. he also cautioned that "in our zeal to maximize all these
different platforms, we can't lose sight of the fact that we can still do
really big things really well as a family of network and local broadcasters.
And I think that is tremendously valuable."

After
recounting his rise through the local station ranks, starting as an intern when
he was only 18, Gregory advised broadcast organizations, including his own, to
think about what they were doing to "mentor and develop the next
generation of broadcasters" even in a climate where they are having to do
"more with less." Gregory said he would "love" to be a
resource in that effort.
 

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