After years of being the reigning champs, NBC’s TODAY show is undergoing a cataclysmic change. The network’s most profitable program is no longer dominating in the ratings. And this morning, new co-anchor Ann Curry took the fall for it and Ann Curry said goodbye.
Is it entirely her fault? Who really knows. But that is not for me to say.
In situations when lots of money is on the line people look out for themselves.
That means the highest level of executives at NBC News were forced to do something. Or at least give the impression that they are doing something to “fix” the program.
Make no mistake about it: NBC and NBC News are in a PR crisis and internal crisis and the viewers and employees are impacted by this.
Ann Curry is taking the fall for the falling ratings, when it may not be Ann Curry who is to blame for it.
Ann Curry seems to be universally liked by viewers and by her co-workers. That’s what makes this so much harder for everyone to digest. And it reinforces to the public and to employees that at the end of the day the TODAY show is a business.
“We often call ourselves a family, but you are the real “Today” show family,” Curry told viewers this morning on TODAY.
So much for that TODAY show “family” it has projected itself to be. Is family really supposed to be treated like this?
And there’s the rub.
Ann Curry and the show this morning tried to put the nicest bow on the news possible: She announced that she will be “taking on a new challenge at NBC News.”
Matt Lauer lauded his co-anchor of one year.
“You have the biggest heart in the business,” Lauer said. “You put that on display every single day in this studio and you have for almost 20 years on this show.”
This news totally hurts when you like the person or persons affected.
Internally at NBC News and TODAY, I hope they have a plan. Crisis, unfortunately, often brings out the worst in people because we stop playing as a team and begin playing for ourselves–ironically at a time when it would be absolutely most productive to work as a team.
In the news world, TODAY is usually the scrutinizer. But now the show is undergoing scrutiny by outsiders.
For the last week, NBC News and TODAY have received the same type of pontification that they are used to dishing out.
They are living the news version of THE DOCTORS, that movie which starred William Hurt about a doctor who became the patient.
During this time of uneasiness at TODAY, top leadership will be vital. Employees won’t naturally work as a team. People will be looking out for themselves. And they will fear for their own jobs.
TODAY has had it good for many years. But let’s tell it like it is: Sailing a ship is always easiest when it’s full steam ahead. It’s most difficult during bad or horrific weather and high seas.
Bottom line: it’s not going to be fun for employees in the near term. And they will need to put on a brave face for viewers.
Fortunately for everyone, soon the Olympics will begin and everyone’s focus will shift to that.
In times of true tests we as a people come together or break apart. The challenge for TODAY during this crisis will be to make sure they come together and in doing so make viewers feel comfortable during this time of uncertainty and change.