Thursday, April 26, 2007

SLANTblog supports the NBC boycott

How do I stand on the move to boycott NBC, stemming from its handling of the package of material it supposedly received from the gunman who shot 32 people to death in Blacksburg last week?

As the publisher of SLANTblog, I am all for it. In this case what NBC did was different than the rest of the press. It alone had the material until it stamped its logo on it and sent it out to the other networks, wire services, etc. To say it had to do what it did is simply not true. Choices were made. Actions were taken.

So, after a few days to cool off and think about it, I still say NBC acted deplorably in rushing to decide what to do, and in rushing to get it done.

While I don’t like what others did afterward, NBC’s role stands out. While I don’t want to muzzle or chill the freedom of the working press, nor do I want to encourage it scream fire! in a crowded theater.

While some of that wretched material NBC received in the mail may have had real newsworthiness, I question that it all did. And, I think that shoving it in the faces of the people who were watching the news on television -- in a state of shock -- trying to find out about people and a school they knew and loved was unbelievably cruel and unnecessary.

No public interest was served and none of that had to happen like it did. Remember, this is the same outfit (MSNBC) that only the week before had 86ed a shock jock -- Don Imus, who is known for his loose lips -- for his over-the-top bad taste in choosing his words. There is some irony in there somewhere...

Yes, there are other issues coming out of the tragedy at Tech that deserve attention. However, in my view this boycott of NBC does not take anything away from those concerns. So, I support the boycott (click here to go to and I hope it picks up steam.

If it does, I think such an unprecedented phenomenon would become news itself and encourage a debate about the proper role of the press that’s long overdue.

Update: Now that I’ve said I support it, what form should a boycott of NBC take?

Well, that’s a question that eventually needs to be answered. It first occurred to me on Saturday night. I switched channels to see what Saturday Night Live had on, to see if it was a fresh show, instead of a repeat. A minute later I saw the NBC peacock logo and it hit me, I’d written on my blog that boycotting NBC was a move worth considering.

Feeling guilty, I changed channels. Since then I’ve posted my support of the concept of targeting NBC for punishment. Then it hit me, a vague boycott is one thing, a specific boycott is another.

Now I wonder how long should I boycott NBC? What’s the point?

My experience tells me there needs to be a specific day, or a particular important program to boycott. This concept needs to quickly demonstrate that its actions can be measured. After that, if it works, those who support this maneuver will be in a different position.

So, what should be the next move?

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Lo Fleming said...

While I'm non watching TV freak, I know what you could do.

Super Bowl XLIII, Tampa, Fla. -- Feb. 1, 2009 (NBC)

Gear up a campaign to get people to not watch the Superbowl on NBC in 2009. You have over a year to do it. That would hurt them very, very much and it's doable. It can be a symbol of what happens when you pretend to be the news.

Lo Fleming