Is the "Today Show" media and are they for sale?


This morning on the Today Show, they are broadcasting from aboard a huge new Royal Caribbean cruise liner. I’ve been on a cruise and the ships can be pretty spectacular, but I had to wonder about the timing. Cruise lines have gotten a black eye lately due to on-board security, pirates and outbreaks of illness.


I imagine Katie Couric putting on her perkiness for whatever the segment/topic is (though I am not sure how that makes me feel about the upcoming CBS Evening News), but et tu Matt Lauer? Please give us some kind of grumbly signal that you aren’t into this overt display.


My cruise was great so I don’t have anything against the industry. But this, what I am seeing o the Today Show, it isn’t media, it’s marketing. Am I wrong for expecting more?

Comments (10)

  1. Lauren Smith says:

    What if your PR department is writing the news?

    http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2006/05/02/588720.aspx

    🙂

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, I have to admit that I don’t consider PR part of the "media". Nor do I consider blogs part of "traditional media"…maybe I should have used that phrase "traditional media".

    I certainly feel that there are accountabilities for bloggers and PR folks, but they don’t correspond exactly with those of the media.

    I guess the timing of the Cruise Line Edition of the Today Show makes me wonder. I don’t find cruise ships all that newsworthy right now except in regards to those issues I mentioned. Plus, Matt, Katie and Al are pouring it on a little thick.

    I might be the only one here that watched the today show this AM, but since I log on so early, I get the news while I triage my inbox.

  3. Lauren Smith says:

    I think there is quite a bit of this type of thing that goes on.  Sometimes obvious, sometimes insidious.

    It’s one thing for the press to shirk their responsibilities and just reprint a press release without any sort of investigation.  It’s another to actively and unwarrantedly report favorably for a partner.

    (and I’ve used up my quota for -ly adverbs for the day)

    It really makes you rethink how much trust you ought to give to these ‘news magazine’ programs.  But a day without Roker is like a day without weather.  Oh, the dilemma…

  4. Paul says:

    The Today show has never been about news.  It is an "info-tainment" show.

    All media are influenced strongly by PR.  That’s the reason you have a PR function as part of your marketing.  Perhaps most people don’t realize it, but virtually every bit of "news" that is published, certainly any about products or companies, started out as a press release at a company.  Some news items are barely changed from the press release, except that the news organization puts their own headline on it, and may edit it a little.  It’s a myth that there is a big investment in research and digging for real news.  (Outside of negative stuff like Watergate or Abu Graib).

    Since the Today show makes little pretense about being news, why would it surprise you that Royal Carribean can get the new "biggest ship in the world, ever" on TV?  Is it any different than covering people lining up at CompUSA for the release of Windows 95, or camping out at Borders for the next Harry Potter book?  Doesn’t Meredith Vierra being hired to replace Katie tell you something about what this show is?

    Even the majority of blogs are fed by PR.  How do you find out about most stories?  If you are reacting to something you saw in the media, it likely originated as a press release in PR.  Unless it is something you know about or experienced personally.

    Perhaps it is the transparency of the shilling that’s going on that bothers you.

    Personally, I find cruise liners offensive on principle.  Any time I’ve seen one in a harbor I cringe.  For me, they are representative of everything bad about being out of proportion to your surroundings.  Like a monster house occupying three lots in a development of previously modest homes.  Anyway, that’s a matter of personal taste, I guess.

    Heather, haven’t I explained to you already that everything is marketing?

  5. nick says:

    "Heather, haven’t I explained to you already that everything is marketing?"

    When marketing turns into the creation of hype from the spreading of awareness is when people feel just a wee bit turned off.

    To accept it merely because that is the state of affairs is to align yourself with the status quo…inertia!

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lauren…I have to admit that it’s part of my morning routine too ; )

    Paul-you saying something and me believing/agreeing with it are two different issues entirely. ; ) I don’t agree that the majority of blogs are fed by PR. I’ve picked up maybe 3 or 4 stories from our press site (most come right out of my little brain or from the brains of other bloggers I read). PR putting the stories out there is one thing, but the media isn’t *required* to pick them up. They have a market to serve so they should be driven to some extent by the interests of their audience. If their customers aren’t their readers, then there’s a conflict of interest and principal.

    It’s not the transparency of the shilling so much as the lack of balance (please, no remarks about Fox news, it’s just a coincidence that I used that term). As I mentioned, the big news about cruising these days isn’t the happy stuff. This was not represented in the broadcast. It seems to me that if they were even doing an info-tainment peice on cruising, these things would come up. Perhaps I wasn’t listening closely enough. I think I kind of tuned out a bit when Barry Manilow described how he cures sea-sickness.

  7. Paul says:

    You hurt me.  I thought I was getting through.

    I didn’t actually watch the show either this morning.  I grabbed a coffee, and took a quick look at the tube before taking my kids to school.  But I did see that they were on a big boat.  I probably would have tuned out at the first mention of Barry.

    Regarding NBC’s involvement, they were co-sponsoring this launch from the beginning.  Today was co-opted by RC when they agreed to run a contest to do the christening.  Since Today picked the christener, they had a built-in interest in doing this "news story".  And, the interests of the audience appear to be well-served too.  A lot of people still think a new ship is a really big deal – Freedom of the Seas was apparently the second most frequently entered search term at Yahoo today.

    So, this whole thing was part of the announcement, but just so you can see where it all comes from, I’ve included the press release from RC, along with stories in major papers all across the country about the christening, all of which came about because of PR.  Ultimately, you reacted to what you saw on TV, but what you saw on TV was the result of PR.  Just like you’ll see when Vista finally comes out, or when MI 3 is released to theatres.  You’re right — most bloggers don’t consciously use press releases to decide what to blog about, but the stories almost always come from PR originally, unless they are from personal experience.  (e.g. Wasn’t Chris Daughtry ripped off . . . Discuss how this has nothing to do with PR.)  I was very disillusioned when I realized this truth back in my youth, but it’s just the way things work.

    http://media.freedomoftheseas.com/media/pdfs/forwards/news_press_060504.pdf

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/12758139/

    http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=1648

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/14564078.htm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/12/AR2006051200506.html

    You’ll notice that the stories all have the same facts, and sometimes exactly the same verbiage as the press release.  The biggest differences are a) the paper’s name in the masthead, b) the reporter’s byline, and c) who they interviewed to get quotes.

    Perhaps the frivolous joy about a new boat is the fair and balanced reporting that counters all the recent negative news, no?

    The question isn’t "Are they for sale?", it’s "How much?".

  8. Tim says:

    Heather, when will you heed my call to Turn Off Your TV? Maybe you should start small. Turn Off Your Today Show! Kinda makes you wretch, huh?

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul- I’m not naive about how the media works but in my opinion, it’s a matter of degrees. And I found the Today Show to be too much this time. It was over-the-top. That’s all. Don’t take the fact that I am opinionated personally. If "trying to get through" to me is an objective, it’s not one I would recommend ; )

    Tim- oh, that is never going to happen. But you speak as a very reposible father of 2, which I can appreciate. The TV is my "white noise".  And yes, the Today Show yesterday was wretch-worthy.

  10. Paul says:

    I guess I should have 😉 winked or something.  I’m sure there’s a special place in heaven for idealists like us.