Friday, December 08, 2006

The Today Show Revealed James Kim's Secret Today

I don't know how other networks covered the heartbreaking and heroic story of James Kim, because the only network news show I watch is The Today Show. But I've been struck by how Today has steadfastly refused to mention what James did for a living.

They referred to him only as "the father"... which I'm sure would not have bothered James one bit. But I never once saw them refer to him, as Keith Olbermann did, as a senior editor at CNET. Why the mystery?

If he were an attorney or a doctor or a chef or a juggler, I'm certain NBC News would have found some moment to mention it.
Hell, even JonBenet was referred to as "pageant contestant JonBenet" or "beauty queen JonBenet." Lindsay Lohan is "actress Lindsay Lohan" and Britney Spears is "singer Britney Spears" and Paris Hilton is "socialite Paris Hilton"... no doubt to distinguish her from the former Prime Minister of Ghana, also named Paris Hilton.

If the story were about, say, Paula Zahn, they would surely mention that she's a media personality... James is someone with a larger audience than Zahn's, but not a word about it. Isn't that weird?

I would have thought they'd mention it, even if only as an excuse for B-roll. Knowing how starved TV is for footage of the people involved in these stories, it's baffling that NBC wouldn't have drawn on the countless hours of footage of James in action on CNET (except for one three-second podcast clip that appeared, without explanation, in one of the stories and was never shown again). Instead they relied on three or four family photos, zoomed in to the point of graininess.

But this morning the dam broke. Another CNET editor was on for a gadget segment, and afterward Matt graciously offered his condolences on the loss of his colleague.

Whoever is responsible for NBC's odd veil of secrecy must have been furious.

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