Good news everyone! We are in the process of seeing some real change, in spite of any initiatives to stop it. I’m talking about diversity. Diversity in the people that represent us politically, and who we see in some pretty big roles. Whether that’s more women CEO’s, or just more people with diverse backgrounds coming into visible positions. I think this is great. Proponents who are against diversity often make the argument that the people being chosen aren’t necessarily the best for the job, but are being given the role in order to fulfill a race role. I disagree with that wholeheartedly. But if that’s the case, that tells me there’s something wrong with that company. You can find qualified people who are also representative of the community.
Let’s talk about this idea for a moment in terms of entertainment. If you run a television network, my guess is that you want higher ratings, right? Well, how can you expect to get higher ratings if you refuse to put people on TV who might actually look like the population in the cities where your network airs? Let’s talk more specifically about NBC. Since Matt Lauer’s “departure” in November, Hoda Kotb has been the co-anchor alongside Savannah Guthrie. And now NBC has named her Lauer’s permanent replacement. This is great news. Not just from a diversity perspective, but because she makes a great co-anchor.
Kotb has hosted the fourth hour of the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford since 2008. For all of you naysayers out there, Kotb joining the main show has actually helped to boost ratings. According to Nielsen, the Today Show’s ratings went from 4.2 million viewers to 5.7 million within a 24 hour period. But let’s think about this for a moment. Even if Matt Lauer hadn’t been fired, the ratings would have remained the same or even dropped. Why? Because he’s not relatable. I, myself don’t watch the Today Show because I am usually at work or at the gym when its on. But even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t find him relatable. And I would guess that most people don’t. So, I go back to my original point. If you’re a network, don’t you want more viewers? The way to get more viewers is simple – bring in someone relatable. And that’s what they did.
NBC is doing some other things related to diversity as well. More specifically, they are hoping that a handful of diversity-focused platforms will help broaden their digital audience. Over the last couple of years, they have launched NBC Latino, NBC Asian America, NBC Out and NBC BLK. The great thing about this is that not only do these platforms provide the audience with diverse options, but they are all led by women.
Traci Lee, who leads NBC Asian America had this to say, “So often there is that perception of that in order to be leading something, there has to be a man at the top. We’re able to have our voices heard without having to fight to have our voices heard in the first place”. Which to me captures the whole idea of diversity – not just from a male/female perspective.
While these platforms don’t have the same exposure as the Today Show, they are, in my opinion, equally important. Amber Payne, leader of NBC BLK says, “[The site] isn’t just [directed] to biracial and black women. We’ve done some great stories on black women when it comes to the election, black women in tech, a whole range of things, but on the flip side, but as black women we are also very concerned about our black men, whether that be our brothers or our sons, so there is this natural feeling for people of color and elevating those voices.”
And that’s the point of these platforms and media in general. To elevate these voices. The color of your skin or your gender shouldn’t have an impact on having your voice heard, or connecting with other people in the community. Hoda’s addition to the Today Show is definitely going to help the show and the network in so many ways. I am excited about these NBC initiatives and I hope other networks follow suit.