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Nightly Business Report on PBS - Quality Drops

edited February 2015 in Off-Topic
This nightly half-hour business wrap-up on PBS used to be a staple of our after-dinner viewing. Friday's were especially compelling with some impressive money managers interviewed.

No more. The show has steadily deterioriated under CNBC management to where we can no longer watch. Suzie Gharib, the last hold-over from the old program, left in December. The show now seems little more than a short synopsis of CNBC's emotion-packed but worthless daytime programing - designed strictly to "showcase" various CNBC celebrities.

Notably missing from the "showcase", however, has been CNBC's morning anchor Joe Kernen. Wondering if PBS may have imposed limitations excluding his appearance on PBS due to his overtly right-wing political views?

Recent Wikepedia summary of show's storied history and subsequent take-over by CNBC.


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  • This is not the first time PBS has tried outsourcing a financial program. There was one featuring this guy, Louis something or other, that PBS canned after just 32 years. Brought in some magazine to liven up the show.

    Ironically, the old show (more or less) moved over to CNBC.

    Not yet outsourced (unless one wants to call American Public Media outsourcing) is Marketplace.
  • I always liked watching Kangas because he was so darned ... how to put this delicately, hmmm ... he looked sort of like ... ummm, like he'd never met a Kardashian and had never been in a place where he even could have met one. Gave you the impression that he must have been hired because of the substance he brought to the job.

    Ms. Gharib has rejoined Fortune magazine. The slightly-creepy announcement from Alan Murray is that she'll be "contributing to the brand" by "conducting a series of interviews with CEOs and other top executives for They will be part of the 2015 Fortune 500 Website after its posting in May."

    I rather like listening to Marketplace, AM and PM. It's very intelligent though it intentionally lacks the gravitas of the old NBR.


  • It's not just the business reporting. My wife and I have commented over the past year or so about the continued "dumbing-down" of both the news reporting and general programming of PBS. Lowest common denominator, folks. Money talks, and when it does, it's usually not to provide useful knowledge to the plebs.
  • @ For years The Nightly Business Night was shown on Chicago's PBS station WTTW, However, a number of years ago it was shipped to the backwaters of PBS, and is now appears on WTTW's sub channels. When I called WTTW, I was told there were not enough viewers
  • edited February 2015
    @msf Are you referencing Louis Rukeyser by any chance??
  • edited February 2015
    @Ted: Here's a partial quote from your link regarding financial reporters:

    "the role of the journalist is not to act as mere stenographers, blindly accepting what is told to them by the PR staff as gospel. It is incumbent on those in the media... to probe and push and question the spin doctors to get closer to the truth."

    "Bringing the truth to light is the job of the Press. Journalists need to learn to ask the smart follow ups to the PR folk, including more probing questions of those people whose jobs are to obscure the truth from view. Reporters need to be smarter when it comes to numbers."

    That pretty well sums it up. PBS used to do a great job of that. Not so much anymore.
  • edited February 2015
    @icyone- of course he is... he was just being cute with the "Louis something or other".

  • @Old Joe -- Ah, but not EVERYONE
  • As a regular viewer of NBR I was appalled when I first discovered that CNBC had taken over production of the show and that most all the regular reporters had been let go who I enjoyed very much. While the show has certainly changed, it is not CNBC PM (other than the anchors), thank God! When I was a regular viewer of CNBC (which I am not any longer) I always enjoyed Tyler and Sue, especially Bill Griffith who on occasion fills in for Tyler. I'm sure sharing CNBC talent has reduced overhead for a program that has long struggled financially.

    I recall one of the first shows under CNBC production included a horrific congressman from California who could do nothing but spout party talking points (not that it matters, but I believe he was GOP)...nothing insightful...absolutely dreadful! I complained to NBR (not that they would listen to any of my input) that there was no room whatsoever for that type of mindless drivel as there is enough of that on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. Unless I have missed it, I believe they have stayed away from that type of guest since.

    With all due respect to Paul Kangas, I believe time had come to move on from him as there were some evenings where he looked as though he had been over-medicated and had been propped up in his chair just so he could read the teleprompter.

    Even with the changes, I still prefer watching NBR over CNBC...have never gotten the Fox business channel so will reserve judgement there...may be getting the Bloomberg Television channel soon which I'm hopeful will be good...any experience with Bloomberg?
  • Lou had a thoughtful panel discussion, even if it could start to feel predictable. The CNBC thing currently airing is pretty worthless.
  • Bloomberg US is a step up from CNBC. There are some programs that are annoying. The morning show is a bit over the top but nowhere near CNBC for the cheerleading. If you have access to Bloomberg worldwide, the programming is very good.
  • (long-time lurker, first time poster)

    I watched NBR for years after dinner and was dismayed with some of the "special effects" changes they made in 2011-12 after Kangas retired. I kept the faith for a while, though.

    Actually, I was on NBR for its last reporting day as a PBS program -- I came in for an interview in the DC bureau just after the folks there found out CNBC bought th show and heard they were likely being let go. We did the interview, and spent a few minutes chatting afterward about the news. I told the reporter (and his folks) that I was 'thankful' to have been on NBR while it was still NBR, because I just *knew* CNBC at the helm wouldn't be the same.....they all seemed to agree.

    Sadly, I think we were right. I am not a fan of the CNBC version....if anything, it's only useful as a USA TODAY-esque peek at the business headlines of the day to get a sense of what happened -- there's next to no really insightful analysis or commentary.

    For financial tv, Bloomberg is still the best, I think -- but even there, they've gone with some more eye candy, special effects stuff to 'liven things up' in recent years. I'm not thrilled with that trend as I like my business tv to be fairly 'boring' but what do I know......
  • edited February 2015

    You and your wife aren't alone in your assessment of the calibre of PBS programing. There's been a lot of dumbing-down beginning about 3 years ago - although they still offer some top-notch programing (especially in the theater arts).

    Nova used to be superb. But overnight it went from a 12th grade-level presentation to only 5th or 6th grade. We no longer watch.

    Great stuff you say about the art of interviewing. 'Tis not necessarily to the strong or forceful that the trophies go - at least in conducting interviews. Meekness is often better. Seems to lull the interviewees into letting their guard down. Than comes that "zinger" follow-up to which you refer.

    Two who come to mind immediately as great interviewers are Jim Lehrer (formerly PBS) and Charlie Rose, whose interviews appear on Bloomberg, PBS and occassionally CBS. Mike Wallace (CBS) was also master of the soft-touch, though he could get quite nasty at times. Judy Woodruff and (husband) Al Hunt are also a couple fine interviewers. Not to be overlooked, C-Span's Brian Lamb is terrific. Not as hard a hitter as the others, but the interviews he conducts are just delightful. Really keeps the conversation moving.

    BTW: Ed Studzinski had some nice things to say about Charlie Rose's interviews in David's February Commentary.
  • I've been pleasantly surprised by Bloomberg. I remembered the screens as being so cluttered that no matter what they had on, it was painful to watch. Could have been that I finally gave in and bought an HD screen a few years ago, but I find the layout somewhat useful now.

    More importantly, there is some real content, they address news as well as business (at least in the morning), and there are glimmers of real thought there.

    P.S. Yes, I was kidding with Lou whoever. Perhaps I should have said Lou Rou... (something), or Louis Ruckis... or other, to make it more apparent. I figure nearly everyone here appreciated him.

    Goes to show the limitations of this written medium.
  • sort of agree with Rforno about the current version of NPR re the reference to USA today. Basically CNBC has few good /useful features per hour but most of the good onesappear to end up on NBR so its much more efficient if one can only devote a half to one hour of business news to watch NBR
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