This was a smart decision.
Shortly after Brian Williams landed in London for the Royal Wedding NBC opted to send him right back to the States to cover the terrible storms that have wreaked havoc on the South.
Writes Williams on his blog:
As I left New York for London last night, I was haunted by one thing: the radar image I had seen on the Weather Channel before departing. It showed an active tornado over the top of Tuscaloosa, Alabama—just one cell in this active, sprawling weather system, which for the 4th night in a row was firing off brutal, monster intensity storms. We talked about it in the newsroom before I left—about how it would take hours before we knew anything.
I landed in London, morning their time, and checked my Blackberry before we taxied off the runway. I saw the death toll. 83 and climbing. Before long, it was posted at 172….Rather than driving from Heathrow all the way into Central London, we decided to get off the highway and park in the residential neighbourhood of Chiswick….Minutes later, NBC News President Steve Capus made the call: He said I should go home. We both agreed the tragedy would dominate our newscast and our coverage.
Obviously, it was an equally smart PR decision — NBC can now use the footage to brand themselves the serious news organisation.
But it was also smart in a news sense: President Obama went to the South today, and with most of the wedding coverage done by the time much of this country awoke, the nation’s eyes will likely be on the tragedy unfolding there.
Worth it to note the NYT made a similar decision. During the entire wedding ceremony and aftermath this morning the NYT.com kept their wedding coverage on the lower half of the homepage while reports of storm damage occupied that the main story and photo section.