TVNewser blogged about MSNBC being stretched thin on its behind the scenes resources today. I do not find this surprising. ICN has periodically received information the past couple of months from people at MSNBC about things being chaotic. And there is some resentment. One source pretty much agrees with the comments TVN has gotten.
This was entirely predictable though. With the drop in ad rates at NBC and a 50 million dollar cutback in NBC News, a hiring freeze was a near certainty. With NBC News President Neal Shapiro rumored to be leaving as early as this week, replacing Phil Griffin and Bruce Perlumutter becomes a bit more complicated for MSNBC President Rick Kaplan because not only is MSNBC’s internal structure in dissaray but NBC News’ hierarchy as well. And Kaplan has to answer to them.
I would say though that the apparent chaos behind the screen so far hasn’t translated into a noticeable drop in quality on screen. There was a period at the end of 2003 when things did seem to start coming unglued on screen with lots of production/control room gaffes and that was around the time that the staff was also to be rumored to be stretched thin. But this time it hasn’t happened as of yet. In fact, given all the logistics of the Katrina coverage, I’d argue that MSNBC’s staff has done a bang up job all things considered and they should be proud that they could do it without the missing “leadership” that those TVN comments refer to.
But it’s obvious from the reports that this cannot continue for much longer. Morale will drop further. And eventually what’s going on behind the scenes will begin to manifest itself on TV, particularly if MSNBC cannot retain qualified personel. MSNBC has an internal anonymous feedback message board. If disgruntled emails are leaking out to the blogs then one wonders what is being written internally. And whether those messages are being addressed…
UPDATE: Someone commented on the Message Board…
As for that message board… it’s not designed for what it is currently being used for. But now that employees are asking serious questions of upper management… those managers who used to comment on a lot of the stupid questions are now hiding because they don’t have answers to the real issues.
UPDATE on the update: I removed a 2nd part of the comment because I felt it was gratuitous and could be taken out of context.