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NBC “Nightly News” presenter Lester Holt shared a surprising message when accepting a press award, saying he and his media colleagues would do well to start heeding viewers’ criticisms of their coverage.

While accepting the National Press Club’s 4th Estate Award last week, Holt admitted that he scanned emails and Twitter to see what audiences were saying about his show’s coverage on current events. He said that while he finds many of these comments off-base, he has found that many of the naysayers have constructive criticism.

“But sometimes there are remarks or observations that sting or touch a nerve or that aren’t so wrong, calling us on how a story was reported – not so much factual errors, per se, but points. more contextual, tonal points, ”says Holt. “These are reviews that come to mind, and when I finally allow myself to acknowledge some truth in their reviews, I can admit that you know we could have been better. We should have been better. More specific, and I’m taking a mental note for next time.

NBC Nightly News presenter Lester Holt hosts an NBC News mayoralty event with Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden in Miami, Florida, United States on October 5, 2020. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid
(REUTERS / Brendan McDermid)

Holt did not acknowledge criticisms of a political orientation in her remarks, although nbc often resisted accusations that she leaned to the left or ignored negative stories for progressives.

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“We must strive to be better,” Holt concluded in his speech. “Better today than the day before. And even better the next day. And that means a willingness to look in the mirror sometimes.”

He encouraged his fellow media figures to “read the play” and try self-reflection.

Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson said Holt’s position was a welcome “small step forward,” but that he and the mainstream media have a long way to go to regain it. confidence of the American people.

“Holt’s statement was a small step forward, but huge progress is needed,” Jacobson told Fox News Digital. “At least he recognizes some shortcomings, but he fails to recognize the deep loss of trust in the press caused by the prejudices and partisanship of the mainstream media.”

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To other observers, Holt’s statement on Monday fell far short of his previous view that “fairness is overrated.”

Lester Holt agrees media should listen to criticism after once saying “fairness is overrated”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at an NBC town hall at the Pérez Art Museum on Monday, October 5, 2020, in Miami, listening to moderator Lester Holt. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

“I think it has become clear that fairness is overrated… the idea that we should always give both parties equal weight and equal merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in,” Holt said in accepting an award at the 45th Murrow Symposium last March. .

“That the sun is setting in the west is a fact,” he continued. “Anything to the contrary is not worth our time or attention,” Holt continued. “Decisions not to give so much time to unsubstantiated arguments are not a breach of journalistic responsibility or some sort of agenda, in fact, quite the opposite.”

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Like Jacobson, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center hasn’t fully embraced Holt’s apparent turnaround.

“It’s good that a network presenter deigns to listen to criticism from viewers ‘sometimes’,” Gainor told Fox News Digital. “Holt is wrong. It is not just about “tonal points”. NBC repeatedly ignores stories that might undermine a leftist narrative or pushes that narrative openly, especially to attack former President Donald Trump. “

“It is doubtful that Holt is serious about fixing the news division of his broken network,” he added. “But if he is, then he would agree to meet with the Conservatives and not just listen to them, but take action to address their concerns. It is high time that this happened.”

Lester Holt agrees media should listen to criticism after once saying “fairness is overrated”

EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY – Protesters paint over the CNN logo during a protest Friday, May 29, 2020, in Atlanta, in response to the death of George Floyd in Memorial Day custody in Minneapolis. The protest began peacefully earlier in the day before protesters clashed with police. (AP Photo / Mike Stewart)

However, some media figures have yet to have their own light bulb moment. NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd recently dismissed the idea of ​​liberal bias in the media as a Republican talking point.

“The Republicans absorbed it all and it became that,” Todd said in July. “We should have fought better in the mainstream media. We shouldn’t [have] accepted the premise that there was a liberal bias. We should have defended ourselves. “

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Holt’s decision to start taking more public advice comes amid a poll that has consistently shown widespread distrust of the media.


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