Magazine article Variety

NBC Turns Spotlight on Itself

Magazine article Variety

NBC Turns Spotlight on Itself

Article excerpt

As an investigative reporter for NBC News, Stephanie Gosk has dug into everything from the Orlando nightclub shooting to the trial of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But in recent days, she's had to shine a light into the halls of her own employer.

Gosk is the reporter NBC News assigned to cover its recent termination of Matt Lauer. The veteran former "Today" host was ousted from the show for inappropriate sexual behavior, according to NBC News. Variety, citing three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, detailed multiple allegations against the anchor. In a recent statement, he acknowledged some of the behavior but also said some of the accusations were not accurate. The network has refused to pay a settlement to Lauer, once one of the highest- paid journalists on TV, with a reported $20 million to $25 million annual contract.

Her assignment has been unusual, Gosk acknowledged during a recent appearance on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." "It starts with a gut punch, and it has been very strange," she said. "For me, the important thing has been to report in the same way I would report the CBS story about Charlie Rose."

NBC's willingness to probe its own scandal - and make the details available to the public in such a fashion - has become the new norm in an era when so many allegations of sexual harassment in the media industry have come to light. CBS News has been aggressive in its coverage of the dismissal of former "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Rose. In November, one day after a report in The Washington Post detailing harassment allegations surfaced, CBS reporters revealed new accusations of Rose's misbehavior.

"CBS and NBC understand that immediate, almost instantaneous and transparent action in the age of social media are required to keep the story from spinning out of their reach," says Rich Hanley, an associate professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University. "Airlines learned this lesson the hard way when videos of mistreatment of passengers went viral and the response was initially slow in coming or awkwardly distributed. The rapid response to a crisis is now a business strategy. Social media changed the old way of doing things."

As Gosk noted to Maddow, the job of covering a scandal from the inside is fraught with challenges. When NBC News staffers attended a meeting with Noah Oppenheim, the unit's president, to discuss the Lauer situation, Gosk said she declined to attend. …

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