NBC Gives Viewers More of the Same with New Today Show Pick
NBC announced today that television and radio show host Carson Daly would join Matt Lauer and company on the Today Show. The unsurprising move is a likely attempt to shore up the network’s falling ratings that accelerated after the unceremonious exit of former co-anchor Ann Curry. But the new hire is also an opportunity for NBC to groom a possible replacement for Lauer and also a missed opportunity for the network to add diversity to its morning line-up.
As I wrote in March, Curry, who is biracial with Japanese roots, had held down the news anchor position at Today since 1997 and worked her way up to co-anchor in 2011; a title she only held for one year when she was dismissed after ratings faltered against ABC rival, Good Morning America. Curry’s tearful exit was viewed as a setback for journalists of color, particularly Asians. She was replaced by Savannah Guthrie who is supposed to remind viewers of a younger Katie Couric. Right or wrong, Lauer received much of the blame for Curry’s ouster. So much so that in April the news anchor joked that his reputation was so battered that he had “a lower Q rating than polio.”
Network execs are probably praying Daly will be the anti-polio for their sake as much as Lauer’s, but to the rest of us, it’s more of the same. Nothing against the former MTV veejay, it’s just that network news — that is more entertainment than news — could and should be more focused on nurturing and grooming talent that will reflect the increasingly more diverse global society in which we live. Instead it seems fixated on hiring more white faces, particularly those belonging to white men.
Carson will assume a new role as digital studio host/social media correspondent, according to media reports. Nobody outside of NBC is exactly sure what the job will entail, but we do know it comes along with a newly redesigned set. NBC says Daly’s job will entail “analysis of real-time social data and reactions from the web,” reports The Washington Post. Surely NBC could have found a person of color to helm its new digital studio, especially when one considers blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to use Twitter and other social media platforms, according to a Pew report.
They’ll get it… One day.