Tamron Hall’s NewsNation: What’s Changed Besides the Name?

Last week, MSNBC unveiled the second third of it’s three part dayside reboot; Tamron Hall’s NewsNation at 2pm ET (Part 1 was Jansing & Co.)

Like J&Co., NewsNation is another publicity free soft launch. I find it strange that MSNBC is “remaking” (I’ll get to why I put that in quotes shortly) four of its six dayside news hours but so far has issued nary a press release on any of it, outside of Martin Bashir’s hiring announcement. J&Co wasn’t announced – in fact there was never an announcement that Chris Jansing had returned to MSNBC (one could understand why since NBC put out a release of her “exile” to Los Angeles two years earlier so it wouldn’t look so good for a second release to come out basically announcing that a mistake had been made…it would take a network with a cast iron stomach to put itself through that kind of indigestion inducing admission and no network is like that). And now NewsNation debuts without an announcement. One wonders why MSNBC is sending out mixed signals here.

Anyway, without any sort of public statements on the matter there’s little to go on concerning what NewsNation is supposed to be about. The only thing I could find was that MSNBC pushed out new channel grids to its providers and the description for NewsNation reads as follows:

Tamron Hall provides context and informed perspectives on the stories making headlines, examining the impact of news on our daily lives.

Pretty vague and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. So instead I have to go by what I’ve seen on the air. What I’ve seen is your basic newscast. In fact it’s pretty much the exact same newscast Hall was already doing before the rebranding. “Crossing the Line” appears to be gone and there’s “Gut Check” which may or may not be new but aside from that it’s pretty much what Hall was already doing, whereas J&Co. was pretty close to a full blown format change that put news on the back burner and endless talking head analysis on the front burner.

Because so little has changed for NewsNation, it makes it tough to do a review of the show since it’s largely just news. There are some dedicated segments like Gut Check and Courtney Hazelett’s The Scoop but it’s mostly just a fast paced newscast. Unlike the plodding and rigid J&Co., NewsNation is constantly changing things up which keeps the flow at a brisk speed. But, like J&Co. the show really isn’t tailored to the host. A bit more problematic however is that there’s not a lot to differentiate NewsNation from MSNBC’s 12pm ET block with Contessa Brewer which, for some inexplicable reason, apparently isn’t getting a rebranding, which will leave it as the only hour on MSNBC dayside without a name or brand. You could swap Brewer and Hall and it wouldn’t fundamentally alter the flow of either hour. And the same thing is applicable to MSNBC’s 3pm hour which eventually will be taken over by Martin Bashir, and presumably will be reformatted.

This raises the question of just what exactly MSNBC hopes to achieve with a paper “remaking” like NewsNation got? Take away the name and the show at 2pm is pretty much what it was before it got the name. At least with J&Co. there was a format change which separates it from every other hour on MSNBC. Not that I think that format change is such a great idea as it’s currently implemented but it was definitely in need of a dedicated show name because of the change. I can’t say the same about NewsNation which really hasn’t changed anything. FNC has dedicated branding for its dayside shows and each show is different. But with NewsNation, which hasn’t changed much, and isn’t that different from the other two hours of news MSNBC currently airs so I’m left asking myself, “Why bother?”


19 Responses to “Tamron Hall’s NewsNation: What’s Changed Besides the Name?”

  1. I’m not a big fan of Tamron Hall, but I can at least tolerate her now. She used to drive me nuts. I think she does ok with the general news format, and I can see the need for a dedicated name more than a format change. TV guides tended to display hour-by-hour listings of MSNBC Live, with no designation for the hosts. On FNC, you get America Live w/ Megyn Kelly and Studio B w/ Shepard Smith. Branding Tamron’s gig NewsNation makes it possible to know who’s on even if they drop the host name off the end. Which, of course, makes the fact that Contessa doesn’t get a show name inexplicable.

    Btw, Jansing & Co. is still terrible. It’s waaaayyy too slow for that time of day..at least here on the West Coast. Coffee has no purpose if the TV is fighting back..

  2. ntacagentz Says:

    if you’ve followed the nearly 15 year history of MSNBC you’ll see an endless cycle of generic afternoon news shows that are unsuccessfully branded differently for a period of time and then after the failure of the host and/or the show, return to generic news shows with generic names. Ms Hall is a very good talent but a 2pm slot is not likely to do anything for her. Kudos to MSNBC for continually trying but we’ve now seen this a number of times with a number of hosts. See: “Newsfront,” “Your World Your Way,” “Homefront Security” et al.

  3. Coffee has no purpose if the TV is fighting back..


  4. clindhartsen Says:

    Thinking about it, this reminds me of the ‘Fox Online’ rebranding of the 9AMpt hour of Fox News Live with Bill Hemmer. It never had a purpose for the name, and the premise, somehow clinging it to the internet, never worked. Even when they threw out the show, and then threw it onto the weekend with Jamie Colby, it was still a warmed over version of Fox News Live.

    Now, compare that to America’s Newsroom, or the show E.D. Hill has for awhile, Studio B, or Dayside, or …. Happening Now even, most of them seem to have a little more character than their prior Fox News Live companion.

    Maybe MSNBC will figure this out, but in that respect, look at what CNN did. CNN had twenty different names, it seemed like, for their rolling news shows that were all identical. Live From was Live Today was CNN Saturday was CNN Sunday was CNN Sunday Night was CNN Saturday Night was any of the other titles I forgot. They pulled those all back into the CNN Newsroom and it made a little more sense.

    Eh, it also smells a little of the original relaunch, which I personally liked a little, Morning Meeting wasn’t bad.

  5. ntacagentz, I know all about MSNBC’s show history. The thing with News Front, At Issue, and other shows from the “bad old days” is that they were formatted differently. Morning Line was different from At Issue.

    And I wouldn’t heap too many kudos on MSNBC “continually trying”. That’s a sword which cuts two ways. On the one hand, if something’s not working MSNBC cuts its losses. But on the other hand its sometimes too quick to cut its losses. This latest reboot I think would fall in that category. Since the Jan reboot, MSNBC’s dayside newscast has continued to improve. But MSNBC was apparently getting impatient, not understanding that it takes time to reverse the negative ratings trends dayside was getting because of the last reboot with Morning Meeting, Carlos Watson and Dr. Nancy. I wish they had stuck it out longer. I think they were headed in the right direction. I’m not so convinced they’re going in the right direction now.

  6. Branding Tamron’s hour is a good step, but the phrase NewsNation is meaningless. Once upon a time Honda made a V-Twin 600c motorcycle called VLX. A scribe asked if the “V” was for “V-Twin”, and “LX” was for “60”, short for “600”: V60. Honda Guy said, “No. We wanted three letters for a V-Twin motorcycle. The computer said VLX sounded best.” NewsNation.

  7. ucfphillys Says:

    ICN2, I get why you think there is less news now on Jansing & Company. But the stories that were reported in the previous format of the show was basically news that has no impact on our liives. i.e.: crime stories, missing young women, celebrity mishaps, etc… The fact that Jansing is doing more of a “morning joe” type format, allows them to give more depth into the stories they cover. There is still non-news (tabloid, celebrity, hyped) BS on her new show, but it is usually relegated to the last block of the hour. Although the quantity of stories delivered is lessened, I believe the quality is greater. “Gut Check,” “Stories far and wide,” “crossing the line,” “twitter crap” etc.. is all gimmicks to make the news more mainstream and attract more viewers. If people want straight repetitive news stories in rotation all day, turn to HLN or CNN on.

    And about the non promotion of the new shows, that really is nothing new for MSNBC dayside. I cant remember ever seeing a promo for dayside on MS or CNN. Except for the one Tamron Hall add which smacks of them trying to promote the fact they have a female black anchor, I never see dayside promos. And besides, MS just launched a broad ad campaign that is apparently penetrating in lots of different platforms. So promoting their 10AM and 2PM shows kids sounds like overkill to me.

  8. All I keep thinking about is who is watching. I doubt that “news nerds” make up any huge number. I still suspect that the numbers are in those that watch, in maybe as much as 20 minute stretches, now and then. I like Tamron, always have. Her style is in straight news information with emphasis points that direct attention to the subject being discussed. There isn’t the same flow of expression as you find in Contessa or Alex, and certainly not the graceful flow of ideas that Chris professionally provides (we will not rehash my position on all that she offers), but Tamron commands attention with her individual style.
    I would put Tamron in its own, unique” category. As her style evolves, she will do very well.
    If you hadn’t guessed already, I have a bias that is favorable to the women of MSNBC. Probably should add Chris Mathews, since he is the first one that drew me to this network, what seems to be a century ago. I concour that they have had some twists and turns over the years (havn’t we all) but I’ll be loyal as long as they keep trying. Guess I should add, “and Chris Jansing is there”, just to make my “wierd” point.

  9. At least they stopped using that “NO Waaaay” lead-in with the now departed David Shuster.

  10. But the stories that were reported in the previous format of the show was basically news that has no impact on our liives. i.e.: crime stories, missing young women, celebrity mishaps, etc…

    Maybe. But it seems to me they’ve now gone from “news that had no impact on our lives” to having talking heads discuss the meaning of “news that had no impact on our lives”. It’s still the same stories being discussed. If the stories themselves have no impact on our lives, per your argument, then what benefit is there to discussing said stories?

    In any case, my main argument isn’t necessarily with the format, but they way the format is presented. It’s dull.

  11. Probably should add Chris Matthews, since he is the first one that drew me to this network…

    Yep, that’s how I found them. I first knew Matthews as a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, who would go on Ronn Owens’ local (very popular) talk radio show all the time. Chris still holds the record for the most insane prediction to ever come true. After 8 years of Reagan, and 3 years of to what at that point had been a pretty good run for George H. W. Bush, the thought of any Democrat winning the Presidency in 1992 was laughable.

    So this crazy Matthews guy comes along – I think this was before he had sewn up the nomination, but was likely to get it – and starts talking about what a resilient and intelligent politician Bill Clinton is, and don’t underestimate him. Ronn says, “Does he have a chance?”, and Chris blurts out “I think he’s gonna win.” I’ve got news for you, kids, nobody thought that at the time. I remember the endlessly gabby Ronn Owens being momentarily stunned by the proclamation, as was I.

    Years later, every time Chris would come back to do Ronn’s show, a caller would invariably remember that. I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for Chris Matthews’ feel for politics, and it began that day.

  12. ^ And he took a nice chunk out of Conway over the ‘Aqua Buddha’-ad against Rand Paul. For all of you who think he’s alwaysin the tank for somebody.

  13. icn2, You’re funny. Accurate and insightful, but, funny.

  14. Something else I think I should address here…

    I believe the quality is greater. “Gut Check,” “Stories far and wide,” “crossing the line,” “twitter crap” etc.. is all gimmicks to make the news more mainstream and attract more viewers.

    Attracting more viewers is what MSNBC wants though.

    If people want straight repetitive news stories in rotation all day, turn to HLN or CNN on

    Maybe CNN. But not HLN. Not anymore. It’s gotten too opinionated.

  15. If people want straight repetitive news stories in rotation all day, turn to HLN or CNN on.

    Just a hunch based on my news habits, and those of viewers I know – I don’t have stats to back it up – but, cable news viewers tend to favor a particular channel. Everybody knows how loyal Fox people are. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I watch Fox News”, well.. I tend to be the same way with MSNBC. It’s my default position, unless the particular program on is just not cutting it, which is how The Ed Show turns me into a Special Report viewer.

    If I’m around a TV during the day and want to catch the news, I’m reflexively going to go to my default. But if that default isn’t willing to run the basic news coverage I expect from dayside, maybe I will turn to CNN. Of course, CNN’s goal is to convince me to stick around a while. MSNBC needs viewers. It is not in their best interest to send “people who want straight repetitive news stories” elsewhere.

  16. I think MSNBC was going in a decent direction with Carlos Watson and Nancy Snyderman, as Spud points out, but honestly… those programs were pretty atrocious. The whole healthcare theme of Snyderman’s show seemed interesting and informative to watch, but she was a really terrible anchor. I heard she had dreadful similarities to Andrea Mitchel… and that’s already too much to handle. So, pulling the plug on Snyderman wasn’t that bad, but I still liked the idea of a healthcare-type program. Hopefully, they can bring it back in the future with a better host.

    As for the current format of Tamron’s new show and Jansing on earlier, it just needs some more time to grow. Still too early to judge, in my opinion. Besides, when Bashir’s show FINALLY starts, we can start criticizing MSNBC’s lineup as a whole. With that big gap right at noon, it’s hard to give it a grade. They are clearly taking their time with Bashir, though… they want him to shine and, I think, it’s smart to go slower with the process so you can make sure to put together a great show with a great cast of producers and segments. It’s kind of like they did with O’Donnell’s show.

  17. on my comcast it just says “The day’s headlines are dissected to explain how they impact people’s everyday lives.”

  18. It’s been pushed out to both DirecTV and AOL TV. Remember, it takes two things to make a grid change happen…1) It takes the channel to push out the change and, just as important, 2) it takes the operater to implement the change.

  19. I think the chat-type programming – including Dr. Nancy with the health angle – is a misguided attempt to grab a stay-at-home daytime audience that already has other shows for that. Nobody’s gonna break away from The View or Today or (God forbid) Springer or Maury to watch Jansing & Co. Those people might watch NewsNation later.

    I realize MSNBC feels the need to do a different dayside than FNC, but they’re better off working on letting their primetime viewers know there’s a decent dayside news block to start the day with. The concept “if you just want news/entertainment/sports, go somewhere else”, is self-defeating.

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