Capitol Hill media figures took a break from ongoing impeachment coverage on Thursday evening to honor NBC News Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell with a career achievement award.
O'Donnell is the first woman to receive the Radio & Television Correspondents Association's Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress. A 25-year veteran of the network, O'Donnell quipped, “Could I ask this of the RTCA board. Could we call this the 'Mid-Career Achievement Award'?”
Also honored at the event were Mary Bruce, ABC News' senior congressional correspondent, who won the Joan S. Barone Award for political reporting in the past year. She covered the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. The BBC's Clive Myrie won the David Bloom Award for his reporting on the source of the opioid crisis. CNN's Kim Uhl received the Jerry Thompson Memorial Award, recognizing career achievement in photojournalism.
O'Donnell has covered not just Capitol Hill, but the White House and six presidential election cycles, and she has interviewed President Bill Clinton, President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and first ladies Laura Bush and Rosalynn Carter.
“The news business is at its heart a business of questions,” O'Donnell said. “Most questions we ask of others, the newsmakers we cover, but some are questions best directed at ourselves. Will I be worthy of what is required today? Knowing it could be a seemingly ordinary day or one where another piece of history is carved. Will I be fair? Will I be thorough? Will I keep my opinions out of my work? Will I keep a sense of humor and a sense of humanity?”
She was especially close to two senators on opposite ends of the political spectrum — John McCain and Ted Kennedy. She recalled that McCain once told her that one day when the Senate gallery was full of spectators, and a rather uneventful issue was being debated on the floor, McCain “walked over to Ted Kennedy and said something along the lines of 'We've got a full house. Let's give 'em a show.' And the two men launched into a thundering debate arguing with passion and loving every second of it.”
On news broadcasts and cable news channels, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more programming. On the entertainment front, late night shows as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
NBCUniversal will reduce advertising loads across its networks and add more entertainment and news content as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, and as families quarantine at home.
“Now, people all across America are turning to us more for the content that comforts them and connects them to the outside world,” writes NBCUniversal ad sales and partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino in a blog post Monday afternoon. “At the same time, some marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they're looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we're seeing and hearing, we want to do what's right for our audiences and marketers.”
On the broadcast news shows and the company's cable news channels MSNBC and CNBC, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more news and information programming.
On the entertainment front, late night shows The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen now originating from the hosts' homes, as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
Some of the company's channels will also launch family movie nights, with sponsored but commercial-free airings of films.
Late last month the advertising research firm Magna Global predicted that the U.S. TV ad market would fall by 13 percent in 2020 due to the fallout from the pandemic, calling the situation “totally unprecedented.” The travel, restaurant and movie sectors in particular have pulled back ad spend.
In addition, NBCUniversal finds itself in the position of having to fill many hours of programming that had been set aside for coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.
Yaccarino also writes that the company will be engaging in outreach to companies and waiving fees “to allow companies to reach their customers directly in their homes and generate much-needed sales.” That will include access to remote production teams, brand assets, talent, translation services, and editing services, which can all be used to create new campaigns even as most people are staying home.
The company also released new research on Monday outlining the increased media consumption during the last few weeks. The research found that digital and linear TV viewing is up, gaming is up significantly, and that streaming services are seeing subscription gains, while...