NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams made an impassioned case for Time‘s Person Of The Year during a luncheon today at the Time Life building, and in doing so, positioned himself as an anti-YouTube, anti-iPod, anti-Wiki, anti-blogger evangelist old media guy who loathes what many say has revolutionized the news business: You.
“We’re choosing cat videos over well thought-out, well-reported evening newscasts,” said Williams. “Look at the shows that do well that don’t include dancing … If we’re all blogging, what aren’t we reading?”
“I believe it is tearing us apart,” Williams said.
Williams called Wikipedia “something that was invented because we feared our existing encyclopedias were too accurate,” adding that “civic journalism” — something he loathes — is a “test to the Stengel era.”
Fellow panelist Emilio Estevez, who brought a mock Time Person of the Year cover featuring a collage of people to the luncheon, agreed: “It’s the best of us, it’s the worst of us” and in many ways has “dehumanized” us.
Williams, who helms NBC’s Daily Nightly blog, extended his argument to another cultural institution favored by NBC pages: the iPod. “[On the way to work we] put in earbuds to listen to music we already know we love,” he said.
Cat video crack aside, Williams came down on YouTube for what would seem to be legitimate uses, such as war video uploaded to YouTube from troops in Iraq.
“I shot video [from Iraq] I would never dream of putting on the air,” Williams said. “I think about [those images] when I go to sleep at night.”