The Daily Nightly from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

BACK IN THE BIG EASY

We'll originate the broadcast from the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans tonight. Ann Curry and Martin Savidge are here with me and both will offer reports on the status of this place: Martin on the overall picture and Ann on the children of this city. During our afternoon conference call, which I joined by speaker cell phone while sitting on a sewer drain along the side of the road (watching as two sizable rats emerged from beneath the foundation of the house across the street), we tried to rank today's news budget in some kind of discernible order: there is the weather, which continues to carry some urgency in the Eastern United States, there is a new Associated Press story (a piece of enterprise reporting on their part) about post-Katrina spending in this area, there's a breast cancer story of interest, and the sordid and sad story involving NASA in a strange way. Additionally, Mitt Romney has pre-announced (the political equivalent of pre-boarding) and we at NBC are in the news today, with the departure of the only leader of this company many of us have ever known during our tenure. Our CEO Bob Wright has handed the baton to Jeff Zucker, who has been a friend since I first arrived at NBC. Our new CEO is the first to come from a news division background. We'll note this transition tonight as well.

LONG NIGHT IN NEW ORLEANS
At 2 o'clock this morning, I was in the kitchen of Engine 29 in New Orleans. The truth is, I was happy there. I was a volunteer fireman long enough for it to have seeped into my blood, and we met some great guys who I plan to visit when we come back for return trips.

070206_nola_hmed_4pstandard We talked about our common experiences in the fire academy, practicing search and rescue, and exciting topics (to us, at least) like positive and negative ventilation and using breathing apparatus. I won't even get into the operation of the pump panel or the proper use of a fog nozzle on a booster line. As you may be able to tell, it was actually tough to leave them as dawn arrived, but it was great to be able to drive through the streets with a deputy chief, in the cab I was never allowed to sit in as an ordinary firefighter. As we will attempt to point out in the story we shot last night for air in tonight's broadcast, these firefighters have been serving, quietly and with great bravery and distinction, while living in trailers. I am in awe of all of them.

We hope you will watch Nightly News from New Orleans tonight. We'll see you back in New York tomorrow night.

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COMMENTS

Isn't it strange that there is no money to rebuild fire stations in New Orleans, but there was literally tons of cash to send to Iraq and billions of dollars in no-bid contracts with little oversight on how the money was spent?

A cynic once said that in the US, we have socialism for the rich (e.g., huge tax cuts, tax shelters, fat government contracts) and capitalism for the poor (as in your home was destroyed? - you're on your own to pay for the repairs). The Bush administration has taken this to a new level.

I'm wondering if Beirut will be rebuilt sooner than New Orleans.

Dear Mr. Williams,

I watch your nightly report, well, nightly. The reason? Because you keep New Orleans and the plight of the Gulf Coast in the minds of the rest of America. I stayed at my home in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans during Katrina because my home had never flooded since built in 1952. My 2 dogs and I wound up on the roof while 12 feet of water filled our home. In fact, Katrina put 3 feet of water inmy yard, but the US Army Corps of Engineers put an additional 9 feet in my house. I won't bore you with the details of my life in the weeks and months that followed.

Suffice it to say that my dogs and I are fine ... considering that we are still not back home because of the slowness of government (whether it be federal (FEMA, the SBA, Red Cross), state (LRA) or local). The important thing is that we will be back home in the coming months.

I can only guess that some people elsewhere in America wish you would stop the news from here, but I want to thank you for keeping it up front and out there. The only thing I can say to those who are tired of hearing about us is they have no idea how tired we are of the constant frustration and disappointment in our alleged leaders who are doing everything but lead.

New Orleans is coming back slowly, but it is in spite of the "help" we aren't getting from those who continue to promise it. This recovery is going to take a long time, and as weary as I am, I would not want to live anywhere else. This is my home.

Thank you for having the courage to keep on reporting about life here midst the greatest disaster to hit America. You have no idea how comforting it is to know that at least one person "out there" still cares. It's what keeps us going here.

Sheree--Thanks for sharing that exquisite, heartfelt piece on "Roots." The watercolor you mention must be beautuful, too. I hope you have the chance to come home to your roots in Louisiana sometime soon.

To Brian Williams and the NBC Team,
Thank you is hardly adequate for your continued report and support since Hurricane Katrina. Without you continuing to report while being bashed by many for "not moving on" to more "newsworthy events", most Americans would not know the daily hardships being faced by the people of New Orleans. It is beyond unbelieveable that we must rely on the generosity of others and people volunteering to rebuild our city. Yet this is what Bush wants us to do. I work with the rebuilding of the public schools here and every day see the dedication of the staff and how gratful the students are for our efforts while what we have to accept as being acceptable working and learning conditions that would be considered substandard in the rest of the country. Yet we continue on because we truly do know "What it means to miss New Orleans" and hope to never have to experience that again.
Beth, New Orleans, LA

Thank you Brian for making America aware of what is happening in our own backyard. The New York District Council of Carpenters are looking to help rebuild the Firehouses in New Orleans. We are teaming up with The Leary Firefighters Org. to hold a benefit to raise funds for materials. In addition we are reaching out to our members all across the USA to volunteer their time to rebuilt. We have Carpenters, Dockbuilders, Timbermen, Floor Coverers, Cabint Makers + Millwrights. We would love for you to mention this to your viewers, as we need all the help we can get.

Thanks again for your great piece and keep up the focus on New Orleans. SOmething needs to get done!

Brian, Ann, NBC: Thank you for returning to New Orleans and continuing to show all of us how unsolved this problem is...the slow recovery...and how it is still touching so many people in a very personal way. In Portland, there's an art auction next month to generate funds for rebuilding. I wrote a short piece to accompany a watercolor that i want to share. Ann's story of the little boy reminded me of the importance of "roots". I was born in Louisiana and will always have those deep connections.
I dedicate this to the children in New Orleans:

Roots

Roots grow deep in Louisiana. Not just for the cypress and oak trees, but for the people that choose to make it home.

No matter where we live, we are always dependent upon our ecological surroundings, but in Louisiana, the trees and the swamps and the waters become part of you. You learn to love the uniqueness of that place. It is special. And once that connection is made, it is next to impossible to pull it apart.

I don’t think people outside of Louisiana understand the emotional intensity of what that hurricane did. For all its wide spectrum of richness and poverty, Louisiana was still home to so many people and their roots grew deep. The hurricane did not just destroy houses----- it pushed people away from the land they loved, the land where they were rooted.

Rebuilding Louisiana is not just about constructing houses, it is about getting people home.

Because it is their roots that will love the place back to health.

I spent the first 33 years of my life in New Orleans, and have been living in Houston for the last six and half, but New Orelans will always be my home. I still have family and friends who live there, so I know how slow the recovery mission has been. I wanted to say how much I REALLY appreciate the time and attention that Brian and the rest of the NBC family keeps this area of the country in the for front of the news even a year and half after the storm.

Brian, Thank you so much for the excellent article on the men and women of the New Orleans Fire Department. Those were just a few stories from the hundreds of firefighters who lost their homes and continue to serve this city in the worst conditions that we have ever seen. Many of the firefighters brought in their personal watercraft, all of which received damage and had to repair or replace them with money from their own pockets, to be used for water rescue after the storm and saved thousands of people throughout the city. Even though the firefighters are not looking for publicity, it is great to see that they are getting recognition for doing their job, above and beyond the call of duty.

Brian, bring Ann Curry on board with you and get her out of the Today show. Her talent is needed in your area, not the silliness of Today. When she joined the Dateline crew what a difference that made. She is an asset to the NBC familiy.
Keep following the money that was donated to the Gulf coast, it has to be there somewhere. It should have been spent to rebuild, yet there is no or at least not much rebuilding along the coast. The coast still looks like a third world country, and these people are still waiting for a hand up, not a hand out. It would have been great if the idiot in the WH thought the gulf coast residents were as important as the Iraquis. Government money is being held up and will be by more red tape than a dozen pair of scissors can cut thru. Keep talking Brian, until someone finally hears.

Thank You for the continueing support post Katrina. We are not recovering from the storm but from the govermental failures in protecting our coast and levees. This is taking the toll seen on all of our public services like the firemen and police and just a person living in a city trying to rise above the careless of the corp of engineers. Thank You for letting us know we are still part of United States.

Thank you Mr. Williams, Savidge & Ms. Cury for your reports last night. I appologize for my neighbors that confronted you after your broadcast. They are great people, but I feel they overstated their feelings to you.

I sent our neighborhood group's email list a message this morning begging them to be their normally charming selves this evening if you broadcast from Lakeview again. The message is copied below. Thanks again for continuing to shine a light on our city's recovery efforts and outstanding needs. We truly appreciate your coverage.

My message to Lakeview:
I attended the broadcast Tuesday evening and later watched a tape of the show.

After the broadcast, a few well meaning very much respected and generally appreciated Lakeview residents, with good intentions, confronted Brian Williams and Martin Savadge and accused them of always presenting nothing but negative stories about New Orleans and their confrontation was very long, repetitive, persistant and somewhat hostile. The reporters made great efforts to remain polite, but it seemed they were annoyed and offended.

I watched the tape and caught a couple of small unjustified (and a few totally justified) negative things said during the broadcast. However, for the most part, I found the stories based on our current reality and designed to elicit sympathy and understanding from NBC's national audience over our situation. They did a couple of very very positive stories in my opinion. The nation needed to see some of us are raising our homes above the flood line - that is critically important to our national perception. Our 35,000 disturbed children really do need mental health help as do I and plenty other adult New Orleanians these days. Can anyone deny the Road Home Program needs to speed up for the sake of recovery?

We are very fortunate they did that show from French and Memphis last night.

If NBC returns to Lakeview this evening, I pray they are treated like welcomed visitors. Someone please bring them a king cake, some boiled crawfish and Barq's!

We New Orleanians fighting for a total New Orleans recovery desperately need New Orleans to continue to get attention from the national news media. We cannot mandate what stories they do or how they are presented. That NEVER happens. Please do not run them off. The good greatly outweighs what you perceive as the bad.

That was the message. Thanks again and...
Remember, New Orleanians are what makes New Orleans New Orleans and as before the federal levee failures, New Orleans continues to be the most interesting city on the continent. We must recover for the sake of our nation.

Ray Broussard of Lakeview, New Orleans

Kudos to all of last night's coverage out of New Orleans. It was definitely award material. Thank you very much for highlighting the situation there, which has not been getting enough national attention in the months since Katrina's anniversary. Bush's recent State of Denial speech and his weekend address to the House Democrats, in both of which neither Katrina nor New Orleans were mentioned, are stark examples of how, except for people in Louisiana and Mississippi and the rest of the storm zone who are dealing 24/7 with the storm's aftereffects, Katrina has been virtually forgotten by much of America. The fact that it and the affected area have been completely off the Chief Executive's radar is especially distressing.

Your report on New Orleans' fire department was first-rate. The members of the NOFD, who've lived through the traumas of the rescues and other difficult circumstances of the storm, deserve the same lionization and recognition as heroes that members of the NYFD had after 9/11. It was extremely touching to hear how the men at the firehouse you reported on don't expect any local, state or federal aid in spite of the damaged firefighting equipment and everything else they need funds for and how they're counting on a firemens' foundation to help. I have to wonder--had these been New York firefighters after 9/11--would they be in the same position now?

Last but not least, I was extremely moved by Ann Curry's sensitive, emotional report on the 8-year-old Katrina survivor who's now very sad, dealing with his losses and traumas. But there was a bright spot in the ending of her piece--despite the pain he's living through, he seems to have a hopeful future.

I wish I could be so optimistic about New Orleans' future. I recall the line early on in the newscast that 2007 seems to be a make-or-break year for that beleaguered city. Her neglect, and virtually having been forgotten, by the Bush Administration and Congress is nothing short of criminal. The least they could do would be to immediately eliminate the bureaucratic logjams mentioned Monday night that have been keeping aid from flowing to the storm zone. And as for Congress--its Democratic members should have the moral courage to block any and all future reconstruction aid to Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other foreign country unless and until an equal amount is provided for storm recovery.

Reading the great majority of those who've posted ahead of me, I second what they say--there needs to be more coverage out of and national attention paid to New Orleans and the rest of the storm zone. I recall that before last night, the last time you'd anchored out of that city was a couple of days during Katrina's 1-year anniversary last August. I'm hoping that it isn't as late as Katrina's 2-year-anniversary when you anchor out of New Orleans again.

A good idea would be to anchor a regular monthly newscast out of the storm zone. It doesn't always have to be anchored out of New Orleans--it can also be from Mississippi's or Alabama's Gulf Coast, one of the devastated parishes near New Orleans, or even the areas of Louisiana and Texas hit by Rita. It would be an even better idea if such a monthly newscast could be a commercial-free one underwritten by Phillips--the more news, the better.

At least 3 reports per week out of New Orleans (or elsewhere in the over Great Britain-sized area hit by Katrina or the parts of the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast damaged by Rita)--reports along the lines of last night's on the firefighters and the children would be a good idea--similar pieces could be done on the challenges police, or doctors and other hospital workers, or teachers, or other working people are having, trying to put their lives together.

The above-mentioned coverage should air at least until New Orleans is satisfactorily being rebuilt and repopulated. New Orleanians and those of us who support her recovery cannot afford to have her vanish from the national radar screen at the very time she needs the attention and assistance that would help her recover and her people put their lives together.

Thanks again for last night's excellent coverage!

Thank you for returning to New Orleans, and for sharing the plight of the children here. Until you see the art work these kids make to express their feelings, until you understand the school situation or the lack of facilities for recreation available to them (most playgrounds are still FEMA trailer villages,) and until you speak with them and hear their stories in person- it is hard to comprehend the resilience and courage these kids face each day with. Ann Curry did a great job on sharing the story of one child- it is just heartbreaking to know there are over 30,000 stories like that across the gulf coast.

Mr. Williams,

I want to thank you for everything that you have done and everything that you continue to do in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. I am from New Orleans but I now live in Baton Rouge. I evacuated for the storm for about 6 weeks. Likely, I was living in the Irish Channel near the Mississippi River levee and had little damage. I have a Masters in Social Work and have been doing disaster relief with the hurricane since Oct. of '05. I believe that you are the only news reporter that really still cares about this issue.
Unfortunately, if the news reporters don't care about an issue, it won't be discussed on the news. You have consistently, since day 1, have been here to help. Every so often, I think that everyone has forgotten about it that does not live in this area.
I can tell you, as a Long Term Recovery Case Manager, that this issue is still very real to people that I visit in their FEMA trailer in the trailer parks. I think that a very important issue that needs to be discussed is housing. Many New Orleanians were renter, including me. Since the storm, rent has spiked from the New Orleans area to Baton Rouge and most likely Lafayette too. It is difficult for many people to move out of the FEMA trailer parks when rent is so high everywhere.
Yes, it has been 18 months since the storm. Some people may say that it is time to get over it and move on. Well, if they could see what I see everyday, they may have a different opinion. Social Services resources in New Orleans were either wiped out or have been inundated with massive amounts of people. Resources in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes have also been inundated.
I think I have said what I can for now. I must get off the computer an go to work. Again, Mr. Williams, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

February 7, 2007
NBC Nightly News
ATTN: Brian Williams

My wife and I found your Katrina reportage last night absorbing (hesitating to use the word “enjoy” as perhaps inappropriate, here) and this correspondence is meant to salute your tenacity in staying with this tragedy, as well as the follow-up.

We’re aware that a portion of your listeners would have you “move on”, and we admire your persistence. Please stay the course. We found Martin Savidge’s and your reporting excellent (those firefighters!) and Ann Curry the ideal addition (trust her to call it “an honor” to join you).

We’ve been fans of Nightly for two-and-a-half decades (Tom having “captured” us), greatly admiring the seamless segue of anchors. Most would call Tom a tough act to follow, but he has to be pleased to have passed the baton to such a worthy.

Attitude and approach are paramount, and yours has to be ideal.

P.S. How to put this? Every time Campbell Brown does Nightly, one must ponder the wisdom of CBS signing up Katie, leaving Campbell to us. Remember, we New Englanders lost Bledsoe, but gained Brady.

Thank you! Thank you ! Thank you for remembering the plight of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I was in one of those destroyed neighborhoods two weeks ago helping clean out a school. I was so angry that Americans were left on their own in such terrible circumstances. The people were amazing through. They were determined to rebuild their community and their lives. If they have the strength to face that destruction, day in and day out, they deserve the total support of this nation. Where is our nation?

Thank you for continuing to care about Katrina and its aftermath. I know many are tired of hearing about the Gulf Coast, but for those of us from there long to hear news that sheds light on the continuing problems. I applaud NBC News, as well as Brian Williams, for not letting the story die. As a US Army spouse who lives overseas, I don't get the opportunity to watch your broadcast live--I instead start my morning with last night's news when it's re-broadcast on American Forces Network. Once again this morning, I found myself tearing up over the situation in New Orleans. Thank you for your compassionate, compelling coverage and please don't let those who prefer to forget Katrina deter you from further stories.

Thank you for the attention you give New Orleans. If you could next time, drive down the streets so people can see there is little that has been done. Where is the groceries, drugstores, gas stations, fire stations, and neighbors.
Why is traveling to NO, a city in the US, one feels like they are in a third world country? As much as we are trying to rebuild, so much still needs to be done. We can not do it alone, who can help?
How many will had heart attacks and strokes. How many, especially seniors will died while they wait for fema to do what fema and our goverment promised!!!!!!

While I am grateful to Brian Williams and NBC for keeping the plight of New Orleanians on the public radar, can we please stop calling the situation here "the disaster caused by Katrina"? This catastrophe was caused by flawed levees built by the US Army Corps of Engineers. New Orleans survived the Category 2 winds and the Catagory 3 tidal surges of Katrina--it was destroyed by the substandard construction and faulty design of the levee system. People outside New Orleans need to know why we feel so strongly that the Federal goverment MUST make our city whole again.

Thank you for reporting tonight again from the Big Easy. Some people are getting tired of this story about Katrina, but my family and I think this is one of the worse disasters in history and it should be remembered always. I especially liked the story about the little boy Ann Curry did. It's sad to see kids that horrible way. Please keep the story alive and maybe our government someday will listen.

Hi Brian, How can we help the firefighters rebuild their station... I a builder in California and my partner [wife] is a licensed architect. We were both surprised to hear you say that there were NO Fed or State Funds available for them... aren't they part of Homeland Security responders? what is going on? Who elso do I need to contact? can you give me the info? Thanks Rolf T.

I must take a moment and drop in this post to Brians blogbox. First, excellent piece on Engine Company 7. Thats true journalisim and we expect follow ups on that crew's crusade. Second, please keep following the money, where there is money there is a good story that needs to be told. And finally a tip of the hat to Mr. Wright for a good days work, nearly 8,000 day's worth of work. We look forward to a continuation of progress in getting the people in the field to get independent obsevations. Now how do we persuade Jeff to give us the hour, we the audience, have been pleading for? The golden rule to market success is giving the customers what they want and/or need and what we want and need is top shelf independent reporting in a conext that does the subject justice. A question that should be discussed -are those editorial meetings run by folks not even in the room? Is it good journalisim or is it spin?

February 6, 2007
To: Brian Williams & Martin Savidge
From: Jean Matkin
I have always respected and admired your reporting skills (both of you) and regularly watched your evening news reports. But tonight’s report “from” Lakeview was the sorriest excuse for a news report that I have ever seen. You showed almost nothing of Lakeview except one silly looking house…nothing of the many homes which have been carefully and fully repaired, nor of the other homes still awaiting insurance or road home money. Mine is one of the latter. You did not interview a single soul from Lakeview. Nearly every person you showed on the air was black. Lakeview was, with few exceptions, entirely white. A viewer from outside this city would assume there were no white people living here. Why did you even bother to come here? You could have done this same report from New York. There is plenty to talk about in this city, from what is not happening, to what is, but none of it ever gets on the air. One of the biggest events post-K in this city took place Thursday a few weeks ago, when there was a large march on city hall in protest of the leadership failures of the mayor, the police chief, and the district attorney. The march was peaceful and had black marchers and white marchers, all articulate, angry and forceful in everything they said. I don’t remember hearing a word about it on NBC. It was covered by CNN because Anderson Cooper was here and participated in the march. The march shocked the leaders of the city and may even bring about some change. I was very disappointed that it was totally ignored by your network.

If you ever do another report from New Orleans, can you please use some area of the city other than the ninth ward or St. Bernard Parish? Lakeview and the other lakefront suburbs were devastated far more than any other part of New Orleans but they have received almost no attention. I’ve had out-of-towners tell me that only the black parts of the city were devastated. This is completely untrue, but from the kind of coverage we have received from the media it’s easy to understand how this view came about. I guess that since the lakefront has neither the raffish glamour of the French Quarter nor the photo-op views of uptown, it’s not sexy enough for a story. But it is the solid, tax-paying, middle-class base that kept the city going. If it doesn’t come back, New Orleans won’t either. Jean Matkin
Many people no doubt think the city is still mostly under water, as every report shows scenes just after the storm, without any note of the date. As a former broadcaster, I am disgusted with your reportage! Charlie Matkin

Dear Brian Williams,
Just when I thought I had shed every tear I had in me for New Orleans I watched your broadcast this evening from that great city. As a former New Orleanian I thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping this story alive. This country and the world need to be reminded frequently that New Orleanians have a spirit that transcends this administration and the subsequent red-tape that goes hand-in-hand with it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you have done and are continuing to do for the people of New Orleans.

Dear Mr. Williams,

Your compassion when Katrina was headline news for all the networks converted me to becoming an NBC Evening News Viewer for Life. Thank you for your continuing efforts and coverage of the aftermath of Katrina. Except for your coverage the victims of Katrina have been forgotten. I fear that without your perseverance in bringing their plight to the nation they will be out of sight to the nation and out of mind.

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