In bad economy, TV news turns to average Americans

Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:40am EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a slumping economy, U.S. network news programs are expanding their gaze beyond Wall Street and Washington to mainstream America, heralding projects that give voice to everyday people and their financial woes.

The latest project comes from former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw, who said last week he would motor down a cross-country highway, capturing stories along the way.

In one segment from the project, Brokaw will show how the credit crisis strained relations between a car dealership and the local bank. Segments will air on NBC news programs as "Dispatches from the Road," beginning this spring.

"People are out there doing some unique things, responding to what's going on, struggling in some cases," Brokaw told reporters in a telephone conference call. "In other cases, they're finding ways to get around economic obstacles that have been thrown in their path."

On Friday, NBC morning show "Today" postponed its travel series "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer" after viewers overwhelmingly voiced opposition to a lavish foreign trip in favor of something local. Instead, "Today's" four anchors will travel to U.S. destinations for a series airing in May.

Rival network ABC has launched a project called "The Kitchen Table Economy" that it says borrows from the Iraq war practice of "embedding" reporters with U.S. troops.

As part of its effort, ABC has embedded producers in Brockton, Massachusetts, as the city cuts jobs, at a Texas cowboy hat manufacturer struggling to stay afloat and with suburban Washington state parents who both lost their jobs.

ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" recently aired the first report in the series.   Continued...

 
<p>Moderator Tom Brokaw of NBC speaks to the U.S. presidential nominees during the presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee October 7, 2008. In a slumping economy, U.S. network news programs are expanding their gaze beyond Wall Street and Washington to mainstream America, heralding projects that give voice to everyday people and their financial woes. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Pool</p>