NBC Japan Downsizing…or an Evacuation?

Well this little todo erupted this morning about whether NBC News was “evacuating” a bunch of personnel from Japan or just “redeploying” them back stateside as part of a downsizing maneuver. The Cutline’s Michael Calderone has more

Jansing, anchoring from New York City, aired a segment showing her crew leaving the country amid the nuclear crisis caused by last week’s deadly earthquake and tsunami. “This is strange,” Jansing added. “It’s a little hard. We’re not wired to go away when a story is happening. It’s a very rare situation.”

Although Jansing’s story might make it seem like all the network’s news personnel were leaving, that’s not the case.

“NBC News and MSNBC are not evacuating people,” a spokeswoman told The Cutline, pointing out that Robert Bazell, Ann Curry and Ian Williams are still in the country, along with their crews. The network cut back staff in the country when the story moved from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami to a nuclear crisis. Jansing and Lester Holt weren’t evacuated but part of that downsizing.

This does NOT settle the issue by any stretch of the imagination. If NBC didn’t want to plant the idea in our heads that this was an evacuation, albeit not a total evacuation, MSNBC should never have aired that Jansing report as it most definitely makes the point…repeatedly…that this was an evacuation. If there was no evactuation, why was Jansing repeatedly saying it was an evacuation? If there was no evacuation why did MSNBC allow a report to go out that clearly states it was an evacuation?

Ancillary evidence suggests that this was more than just a redeployment, particularly in Jansing’s case. This evidence comes courtesy of Rachel Maddow who said on Tuesday that Jansing was going to be doing special reports all week at 11pm ET from Japan. Only one aired on Tuesday night. Wednesday there was no special report. By the time it was supposed to air Wednesday Jansing was probably on her way to the airport. So add the timing of the one off special, which was supposed to go the whole week, to Jansing’s report and you seriously have to question the NBC statement to Calderone. The two are in direct conflict with one another and just do not add up…

Update: To further confuse the issue…MSNBC Dayside’s Twitter feed called it an “evacuation”…

@jansingco’s evacuation from #Japan, caught on tape, coming up in about 10 minutes

So we have Jansing calling it an evacuation and MSNBC Dayside calling it an evacuation…and we’re supposed to take NBC’s “official statement” as the last word in this? Sorry, can’t do that.

Update 2: Here’s Chris Jansing’s report that caused all this mess, admittedly after I pounced on it on Twitter. Even the lower thirds in this report use the term “evacuation”! NBC saying this wasn’t an evacuation simply isn’t enough. It needs to explain this discrepancy between what it says happened and what we were shown happening on the TV screen.

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13 Responses to “NBC Japan Downsizing…or an Evacuation?”

  1. The mothership and MSNBC sometimes have problems communicating. Which is weird, since they are in the same building, as opposed to being in different states.

  2. Here’s my scenario of what might have happened.

    NBC decides for whatever reason it wants to downsize it’s talent footprint in Japan and asks Jansing and some others to return home.

    Jansing is upset because she likes being on location and wants it made perfectly clear this is NBC’s call and not hers.

    What follows is the little airport report (drama) and the exit being called an evacuation by Jansing which is backed up by her Dayside bosses at MSNBC.

    This is picked up by the blogs like ICN-2 and gets back to NBC HQ; who make it clear they weren’t doing an evacuation but just returning staff back home as is their right.

    From there it goes back and forth and everyone goes nuts online.

    Much ado about very little. Just my two cents worth.

  3. That theory only functions if Jansing is interested in committing career suicide. That kind of public Lou Dobbs style pushback does NOT go over well internally. Since Jansing has never had the rep of being anything other than a pro and has been in the business long enough to avoid mine fields like this one, I think your scenario is rubbish.

    My personal opinion is that someone in 30 Rock saw things spiraling out of control in Japan Wednesday and decided to reduce NBC’s exposure of having so much talent in the area. It may not have been an actual “evacuation” in the panic “cut and run” sense but the message was clear enough. The fact that everyone had to scramble to get to the airport on a few hours notice would support this theory.

    NBC is publicly chafing at the “evacuation” tag because it does carry some negative connotations to it. Personally I’d rather have them err on the side of caution than not.

    But NBC PR has bungled how it handled this. Instead of coming out with a concise all encompasing explanation that could re-define the story in a way to make the pullback…even an “evacuation”…seem justified, it has instead decided to not address all the evidence lying around pointing to an evacuation and say that there was no evacuation.

    That just makes things worse because it makes NBC PR loook silly for not adequately addressing the issue and it makes Jansing look silly at best and out of the loop at worst. It also hangs everyone associated with Jansing’s report out to dry.

  4. Spud: I agree with your premise for why NBC wanted to ” evacuate” talent from Japan; it’s quite plausible. As well the POTUS is about to leave on a trip to South American and the US has just declared war (more or less) on Libya; so talent, with valid passports, may be needed elsewhere.

    Jansing is a pro, as you say, so she, and J&C producers, may well have chaffed at been brought back home before the story ended. In fact she says as much, politely, in her ‘report’. As well Dayside overseers may be miffed that the mothership is telling ‘their ‘talent where and when to go and not them. I know that NBC can do whatever it wants but it’s still upsetting to be told what to do, none the less.

    She may also be a bit upset over losing an hour of her show and this is a way to express that feeling without looking grieved.

    As to her committing career suicide, I just don’t buy that line. She is by far the best Dayside host on MSNBC; and the most popular and respected as well. NBC is not going to do anything serious to reprimand her over this because they know they would look foolish and it would make her even more popular. She and the producers may get a quiet slap on the wrist but that’s all I would expect as retaliation.

    If they’re smart they will drop it and hope everyone forgets it was ever an issue.

  5. To publicly say that NBC is pulling out, if it really wasn’t a pull out, is career suicide…especially if she’s miffed at having lost an hour. It’s right out of Lou Dobbs’ playbook when Dobbs said “We’re going back to Littleton Co. because Rick Kaplan says so”. Dobbs was out at CNN shortly thereafter. Ashleigh Banfield criticized press coverage of the Iraq war. That was the beginning of the end for her at NBC. You seriously think Jansing isn’t aware of the risk involved.

    Jansing’s a team player. You didn’t hear a peep out of her during the two years she got exiled to Los Angeles. To come out now and throw a few subtle elbows over this story would be atypical behavior for her.

  6. I agree the pushback is not typical for Jansing but there is no doubt that she and others at MSNBC did pushback by airing the evacuation report. Why she & the others did it is still up for discussion but that they did push back is settled.

    If you’re correct and she has committed career sucide then she and others will be gone in the near future just like Banfield & Dobbs. If I’m right she will remain and this story will go away in a few days.

    We’ll see.

    BTW; if NBC is stupid enough to fire her over this then she will be picked up on the same day by some other very grateful network.

  7. NBC is lying. This thing was spinning out of control, Chris Jansing was shown on television with high winds whipping through her hair – causing viewers to wonder how much radiation was in it – and, poof..she was on a plane back to the US. They were evacuated.

  8. I agree the pushback is not typical for Jansing but there is no doubt that she and others at MSNBC did pushback by airing the evacuation report. Why she & the others did it is still up for discussion but that they did push back is settled.

    No it isn’t. In fact the pushback is coming from NBC News not the other way around. If the operative storyline was a pullout of some sort due to heightened safety concerns – evacuation…redeployment…however you want to call it – then she was documenting the move with her story. Honestly I didn’t find anything wrong with her story at all. She wasn’t whining about being called back. She just noted it was a strange situation to be in.

    If you’re correct and she has committed career sucide

    I didn’t say she has. I said your theory means she did. Since I don’t agree with your theory that means I don’t think she did.

    NBC wishes this would all just go away. They’ll get their wish because the Media Writers aren’t interested in pursuing this story by noting all the discrepancy between NBC’s version and Jansing’s report. Calderone didn’t go there (in fact I take issue with the way Calderone framed his story). TVNewser isn’t going there. However for me this is the kind of thing I pounce on because I can’t leave discrepancies like this alone.

  9. Spud: What I was referring to by saying that Jansing was pushing back was that she was making her POV on being ‘evacuated’ from Japan known on air not that she called it an ‘evacuation’. The story made it clear, at least to me, that she was not happy about leaving and would have preferred to remain in Japan.

    I think NBC was upset she did the report at all and thus made a story of the fact that NBC was getting out of Japan in a hurry. For some reason they focused on the word ‘evacuation’ and that has now become what is discussed on line. with your theory that means I don’t think she did.

    “NBC wishes this would all just go away.”

    ^On this we agree. 🙂

    “I didn’t say she has. I said your theory means she did.” [meaning commit career suicide]

    Yeah you did>>> “To publicly say that NBC is pulling out, if it really wasn’t a pull out, is career suicide…”

  10. with your theory that means I don’t think she did.

    Delete line above – bad edit >sorry

  11. If the chyron said ‘evacuation’ then Jansing just said when she was told.

    What’s wrong with following orders from your superiors? Nothing. Case closed.

  12. One day Lester Holt is reading radiation on the bottom of his shoes, the next day they’re high-tailing it outta there. There’s no debate; NBC lied.

  13. […] Second is a statement from NBC on the Japan redeployment/evacuation story last Wednesday. Recall Michael Calderone’s article on the redeployment… “NBC News and MSNBC are not evacuating people,” a spokeswoman told […]

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