Thursday, February 16, 2012


I'm one of those folks who introduce letters of complaint with: "I never write letters like this, but..."

And that’s true. I -- well, OK -- seldom write to complain.

But maybe it's time for that to change. I got my new habit off to a rip roaring start with the missive below. Just sent regarding a report on NBC's weekly news magazine show, Rock Center (hosted by Brian Williams), it's most likely doomed to remain unread, and certainly unloved, at the site.

Wow. It's the day after Rock Center's cheery rendition of FedEx perfection, and I'm feeling more upset by the minute. I must admit, in my search for "real" news, I've allowed Mr. Williams' seemingly serious and sincere delivery on NBC's evening news to convince me that I'm getting The Real Thing, getting it more than with the other two of the Big Three. But after last night's report at his new gig on NBC's weekly news mag, I suspect it's just cue card coaching that got him this far.

According to Wednesday evening’s lengthy "report" (read "Infomercial), FedEx is peachy in every way. The big boss is just a regular guy who, as he put it, doesn't want employees to fear telling him when his own package has gone astray, which, apparently, it once did, and he was a good guy about it. Couldn't he have just gone on "Undercover Boss" and subsidized a few employees' educations, and paid off a few of their massive debts?

What clearly came through to me was that FedEx's PR people were under pressure to counter the effects of a video gone viral of a monitor being delivered by a FedEx worker via a toss over a fence. Somehow, some way, they scored that "report" wherein NBC obligingly found absolutely nothing but immaculate workplaces, satisfied longtime employees, a spectacular delivery record and a boss out of a dream. And what did they urge us to see in their extended coverage online? The thrilling story of how NBC's photogs got those shots of flower deliveries from the viewpoint of the flowers!

Hey, I get it. Rock Center is no "60 Minutes" and isn't meant to be. But that doesn't forgive what must have been the result of a favor owed. (Or -- hmmm -- do the FedEx folks know something about somebody?)

Many evenings, I've been watching Mr. Williams, then going to PBS for The News Hour. (That's a real hour. No commercials.) From now on, I might check in at NBC occasionally, to see how that forthright delivery bit is doing. But for the most part, the bubble has burst. I'll have an extra half-hour for other things.

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Although I indicated when prompted that this was a comment, NOT a story idea, I guess they have a tight budget over at MSNBC and can only afford one response for any and every email. Here's what I immediately received from them:

Thank you for contacting Rock Center with Brian Williams. We appreciate your feedback and story ideas. Due to the volume of emails we are only able to contact you if we are interested in pursuing your story pitch. Thank you again and have a great day.


  1. I've always had a vague fondness for MSNBC, though I don't watch or read it much. The bubble has burst for me now, too. Thanks for sharing this. You've given us all an extra half hour!

  2. Marji my dear you have nailed this one. we happened to see the fed ex piece and you are right on the button. thanks so much for articulating the news/p.r. connection.
    love, nancy
    p.s. i love that they tell you to have a great day.