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Grant McCracken: Brian Williams Thinks New Media Doesn’t Count

Grant McCracken: Brian Williams Thinks New Media Doesn’t Count
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The longtime anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News publicly dismissed the validity of New Media channels for public discourse and influence.

Grant McCracken, Cultureby
  • 1 october 2012

Is NBC’s Brian Williams fit for office?

Anthropologists live for the telling event, the one that tells us what people are really thinking.

Like this one. It’s a public service announcement from Brian Williams and NBC. It played Sunday morning, September 30 as one of NBC’s “The More You Know” series.

Brian Williams addresses the camera and says:

You can tweet and text and blog as much as you like

But if you really want to make an impact, vote.

Then what matters to you and the people you care about will really count.

You’ll want to vote.

Patronizing? Sanctimonious? Yes and yes. But, worse than that, it is a simple statement that this keeper of a temple of old media doesn’t understand new media. Williams implies that if you have really want to make an impact don’t expect to do so through tweeting, texting and blogging.

The phrase “as much as you like” is especially unfortunate. “You can engage in this pointless behavior if you insist,” it scolds, “but you must see that it can’t matter.” Thus does Williams cast himself as the great man taking time to show us the error of our ways and to offer us sage advice.

But of course voting matters. However, to say tweets, texts and blogging can’t matter or count — Mr. Williams, how astonishing! This is a simple declaration of ignorance. It says that the man who is the face of NBC news does not understand the most important revolution to take place in communications, politics, culture and, yes, news in the last 20 years.

Generally, I have liked “The More You Know” series. It verges on admonishment. (Any advice must run this risk.) But a rhetorical delicacy has saved them (and us). Not this time. This time poor Mr. Williams puts his foot in it. In the process, he takes a chunk of value out of his brand, to say nothing of NBC. In the process, he may actually demonstrate that he is unfit for office. Unless, of course, he merely reads the news and does not understand it.

(Original post by Grant McCracken)

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