Brian Williams: TV News Viewers More Engaged Today

By Alex Weprin Comment

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was interviewed at the Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News OnScreen Media Summit last week.

In addition to talking about the Juan Williams situation, the upcoming departure of NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker and Jon Stewart’s DC rally, Williams said he believes that news viewers are more engaged today than they have ever been:

“It used to be people would say to me, we watch you every night,” said Williams. “Now it’s we TiVo you every night.”

That means, he continued, viewers are taking an “affirmative step to see you more than just the passivity of watching. I try to thank them forcefully because it’s about the nicest thing you can say to someone in my line of work; we make the effort to record you every single night.”

Of course the traditional network newscasts have been losing viewers for years, with viewers turning to the more polarizing world of cable news, or simply getting their news throughout the day online and on their phones.

What did Williams have to say about Stewart, [Juan] Williams and Zucker? Find out after the jump.

Brian Williams largely demurred on Juan Williams, though he said it was not a first amendment issue: “The First Amendment gives him the right to say pretty much anything he wants. But he doesn’t have the right to be employed by NPR.”

On Zucker, he said he was sad to see him go, as the NBCU CEO was  a product of the network’s news division. He also stressed the kind words said about NBC News by Comcast executives, who called it the “crown jewel” of NBC Universal.

And then there is Stewart. Williams is a regular on Stewart’s Comedy Central show, and has long praised the comedian and fellow New Jersey-ite

Commenting on President Obama’s Daily Show interview with Stewart on Wednesday, Williams observed that the President’s appearance “solidified Jon Stewart’s position” as an industry leader.

“I’m already on record in calling Jon a necessary other branch of government,” said Williams. “I think he keeps them honest. For a long time he was a one-man political media force. We all take our lumps from him. I enjoy going on [The Daily Show]. We have a blast together. I think he serves a purpose. What does it say about the [wider] media world? I think it says what we already know, and that is our media world is changing.”.

The entire discussion is worth a read. Check it out here.