Apparently, Primetime Didn’t Have it Coming.

The picture below was inserted in the 30 Rock season 3 DVD set I received for Christmas:

Those words in the middle say “Primetime had it coming.” Apparently, primetime didn’t have it coming. NBC did.

NBC has faced quite a public relations dilemma with this situation (which TIME’s TV and media critic James Poniewozik has termed the “Jaypocalypse” and NBC’s “Conanundrum”).  There are several Facebook groups supporting Conan, and in the interest of full disclosure, my Facebook profile picture is a picture of O’Brien with the caption “I’m With Coco.”  Groups like “Team Conan O’Brien” have tweeted their support for Mr. O’Brien and have encouraged others to tweet pictures of themselves at Conan support rallies.

To make matters worse, NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker is patting himself on the back for his handling of the situation. “I think it’s the sign of a leader to step up and say, you know, when something’s not working, to have the guts to reverse it,” he told the New York TimesMedia Decoder blog. That is a quality of a leader, but I would also argue that a leader must keep his word. A leader doesn’t offer job security and then pull out seven months later. Granted, Zucker is the boss and he has a business to run, but this awkward cut-off of “The Jay Leno Show” and sudden termination of O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” run seem to suggest that poor business decisions were made somewhere along the way.

NBC has taught us that the media landscape is changing and unpredictable. Just because people loved Jay Leno at 11:35 did not mean they’d love him at 10:00. Just because previous “Tonight Show” hosts held the gig for 10+ years did not mean Conan O’Brien would have the same longevity. Just because Jeff Zucker demonstrated leadership abilities does not mean he can stop people from plastering their Conan support all over the web.

I may be on Conan’s side, but I’m interested in other perspectives. Do you see it from Jay Leno’s point of view? Why? What do you think this debacle means for the future of television, specifically network TV? If Conan moves to another network, whose show will you watch?

Also, a couple of spot-on articles considering the Jay/Conan/NBC issue from a PR perspective:

An Open Letter to NBC Universal President & CEO Jeff Zucker by Keith Trivitt, published in the PR Breakfast Club newsletter.

This post from the Media Decoder blog, which discusses the most recent happenings and discussions at NBC regarding the issue.  The Jeff Zucker quote noted earlier comes from this post.

A Brand New Bias?

Poniewozik.

Imagine yourself as a third-grader trying to learn to write that name in cursive.

I actually have no idea if James Poniewozik had to suffer through elementary-school writing lessons, but someone taught him.  Taught him well.

In the two-ish years that I have subscribed to Time Magazine, his column is the one I have read most consistently and his ideas and viewpoints are the ones that teach me the most.  Plus, his Twitter profile picture shows him with a gigantic mug of coffee.  How can that not be great?

Poniewozik writes TIME’s “Tuned In” column.  Every week he contributes an essay to the magazine that highlights current events and/or issues in media and journalism.  Occasionally, he’ll write a bigger feature or the cover story.

His most recent column for TIME was especially intriguing.  In the column (from the November 16, 2009), he discussed how media bias is not limited to left-wing and right-wing; it’s not just Fox News and MSNBC that are perceived to lean in one direction or another.

It’s also the center.  Poniewozik’s column, “Moderation in Excess,” was all about moderate bias.  Moderate bias.  Oxymoron?  He doesn’t think so.

He describes this bias as being evident “whenever an organization decides that ‘balance’ requires equal weight for an opposing position, however specious.”

“There isn’t one, and there never was,” he says of the “neutral center.”

Honestly, I’m still tossing around my own ideas of what this means, but I think he raises a very interesting point.  Does someone considered to be politically moderate just objectively assess both the far-left and far-right positions?  Sure, but you can’t vote in the middle.  There has to be some middle ground to stand on.  The devil’s advocate always has an opinion.

Poniewozik brings it back to the journalists, talking about how journalists won’t be able to cover from that “neutral center.”  As a journalism student, that’s what I’ve always understood: be unbiased.  If I understand his position correctly, he sees a difference between moderate bias and fair treatment of positions.  But regardless, he gave me a lot to think about.  His columns usually do.

As if his interesting journalism propositions weren’t enough, he tweets, as all great journalists do (general statement, but you get the idea).

A few recent gems from @poniewozik:

Young woman on the N train deeply absorbed in a volume of Conrad. Lauren Conrad.

Drafted my Mad Men review; going to sleep on it, then polish and probably post early in the morning. Yay, four hours of sleep!

Never seen Mad Men, but I love that four hours of sleep part.

Read James Poniewozik’s  “Tuned In” blog here and follow him on Twitter here.