Brian Williams is now the face of NBC News. In part one of our two part series, we told you about how Tom Brokaw stepped down while he was at the top and passed the baton to Williams, who has maintained the lead. America had not seen a network news anchor change in more than 20 years and the transition often made Williams the subject of the news instead of the man reporting it. Now, Williams talks about the future of network news, the biggest stories he has covered and the one place where he is just a regular guy.
Brian Williams has been at home here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York for more than a decade, but until a few months ago, five to be exact, he was not the man of the house. Now, he is. Williams is now the man under the bright lights of NBC Nightly News and all the pressure than comes with being number one.
While ratings are a fact of life for all tv news people, Williams doesn't forget why he is in your living room every night; not to entertain, but to inform. "Part of our job, Abner, is kind of civics professor. We kind of have to deliver news on many occasions that no one wants to hear. But it's really important, if we are going to be active citizens, to hear it."
Many critics say that network news is dying. That it is a dinosaur about to become extinct. Williams does buy that, and he says if you don't believe him, just look at the numbers. “Every night, 30-million Americans make it a point to sit down and watch one of the 3 network evening newscasts, they have a favorite and that makes us the single largest source of news in the United States." To give you some perspective, the top 10 cable news programs have a combined viewership of just more than 11 million.
What are the biggest stories Williams has covered? He puts the recent death of Pope John Paul the second and the subsequent naming of his successor near the top, but the biggest is the one that changed America...9-11. “We are still paying for it; I am still covering that story. There’s aspects of our broadcast this very night, half of our overseas reporting is a direct outgrowth of the fact that we were attacked. "
Williams says he will keep anchoring NBC Nightly News, in his words, “As long as they will have me and if for some reason I can’t do this as long as I would like, I am really convinced that I got to be around news."
He calls it his dream job that was at the end of a sometimes bumpy road. "One of the things I am least proud of is dropping out of college because I was out of money and in a hurry to get into the working world. It worked out okay. It is still a work in progress, I am waiting to see if this is all right after all. "
"People of Lubbock see you every night. They know what you do, but they don't know a lot about who you are. What would you tell somebody? You are a regular guy, you like NASCAR, you like? That's a good question and I get it a lot. The unfortunate part is people really do most of the time see me in the confines of this room, at this desk, dressed this way. Or they will see me out in the field, you know I keep saying to people, I have two kids, a marriage of 19 years and a two car garage. If that helps?”
Williams grew up in New Jersey, loves NASCAR and he is a presidential history buff. In case you are wondering the number one anchor in America does not get special treatment at home. “These days I can’t get arrested at my own house, because they are both doing homework at night, my wife is the chairman of our school board, and our dog is getting on and she doesn't come down stairs when she hears me car anymore. She kinda waits for me up there. Sometimes I have to wave my arms and they go back to their business pretty quickly.
|The Changing Face of Network News: Part 1|
|NewsChannel 11 Special Reports|