At the very same moment one evening last week I heard my wife shouting at the television the same thing I was at the same time, “what are you doing?”
So who where we shouting at? It was Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News, one of the best news anchors in the business, a great writer, a man with wit and even charm when appropriate. Brian is not just a newsreader. He pretty much oversees his 6:30 broadcast. I often applaud him for mastering the art of the on-air obituary, which really is an art form.
The broadcast in question came on the evening that the alleged radio personalities from Australia pulled their now infamous prank of calling the hospital where Kate Middleton went with her severe case of morning sickness. You know the rest of the story, no need to repeat it here.
Brian Williams could not have been alone that day but that was the newscast we turned to at the time. What could they have been thinking when they included in the report the video of the two jerks pulling off their little prank? All this did is accomplish exactly what they set out to do, get publicity for themselves. And wow did they get it and they got it worldwide. The video was available all over the Internet and I am guessing many TV news channels did the same. Wow, how funny, look at what the radio morning zoo did today!!!!
This is not an isolated incident; it is the communication world we live in. Make yourself “famous” by any available means, be it radio, television, Facebook, twitter or Youtube. There is one common denominator in all of this and that is you’ve got to be outrageous.
Those two in Australia are no different than hundreds of others around the world and this is by no means their first venture into stupidity that garnered them publicity. Once they had a standing gag called the “heartless hotline” where listeners were encouraged to try and take away gifts given to the disadvantaged. Isn’t that cute? No, it is mean spirited.
I am guessing that there will be a brief lull in this kind of nonsense but take my word it won’t last long. The quest for ratings and fame is never ending and sometimes the only way to get one, the other or both is to try and one-up as many of your contemporaries as possible. It could be something as simple and harmless as local TV stations offering cash prizes to get you to watch during ratings (in case you need an extra dollar, locally those months are February, May, July and November) or it could be trying to be outrageous for fun, fame and ratings.
This time the fun turned out not to be funny.