NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Brian Williams Suspension

By Duane Sherman

Here at NECC, Journalism students are stressed two facts from the second they land in that classroom seat. “Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!” is one. The other is “your credibility is all you have.” It’s pretty straight forward advice. This is nothing new. It’s been the same since news became a way of communicating with one another. The truth is important. The truth does matter.

It’s tough enough to report the news, but it’s even tougher to be the news. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams did just that, but it wasn’t overnight. It took 12 years for it to come to light that there had been some embellishment on the part of Williams.

Williams had conflated events regarding his proximity to conflict in a warzone.

This embellishment has forced one of America’s most trusted newsman to spend the rest of his career sporting a metaphorical black eye.

NBC News president Deborah Turness released a statement saying, “We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.

“While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.
“In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.”

This is not the first time that an anchor has gone down in flames over a news story. Just ask former CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather. He was let go at the pinnacle of his career over a false story regarding the as-yet-to-be-elected President George W. Bush.

The troops that were in the actual helicopter that was shot down, are the real story and should have been the focus, not Williams himself.

Alexandra Cote of Bradford, herself a graduate of Journalism studies, now at NECC for a degree in Psychology said, ” I don’t think that he will be back. Most do it, but he got caught. There are different perspectives, but it didn’t really hurt anyone.”

Lisa Hernandez, a freshman at NECC who resides in North Andover said, “I think that it (the punishment) is too harsh. It’s not right what they are doing to him. He’s not the first guy to say something not true, but not everyone gets that type of punishment.”

At least one freshman on campus echoes the sentiments of the journalists code, referenced at the beginning of this article. Victoria Sheperd of Amesbury said, “The news doesn’t always tell the whole story. Telling us what we only want to hear takes credibility away.”

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