I am not one of those print journalists who makes fun of TV journalists. For one thing, I have known a lot of very good TV journalists. For another, what they do is very hard. They have to be good journalists plus they have to not seize up when the anchor goes to them on a live shot at 11:05 from in front of the yellow crime scene tape.
I don't think NBC should have hired Chelsea Clinton, and my feelings were reinforced watching her last night. She did a job that would have been fairly mediocre even for a summer intern for a TV station in a small market. (At the end of the summer, the station manager advises her to go to law school.) Her story on Rock Center dealt with a woman who has, to her great credit, created an after-school program for poor children in Arkansas. But what you saw from Chelsea is the difference between a celebrity news correspondent and a real journalist. I didn't get the sense that Chelsea knew how to take the story beyond a puff piece. She didn't have a lot of authority in her presentation.There was .little in the way of larger context. It seemed more like Chelsea was covering Chelsea visiting an after-school program. She was in the story a lot.
If Chelsea Clinton wants to be a TV journalist, fine. But she should do what TV journalists do: Get a job in a local market, where you have to run from assignment to assignment, sometimes lugging your own camera and editing your own video. Stand out in a blizzard or a hurricane doing a live shot while the elements are conspiring to blow you down the street. Cover the city council meetings, the parades, go to a fire, etc. etc. It's not about paying dues. It's about learning how to report, how to tell compelling stories, how to overcome obstacles, without a team of highly paid network producers and photographers propping you up.
I have nothing but respect for the way Chelsea Clinton has lived her life. Unlike the children of many celebrities and politicians, she has never done anything to embarrass her parents, and she has, by all accounts, studied and worked hard.
My problem is with NBC putting an intern on a network news program, and trying to pretend like she's the real deal. Here's a story from The Washington Post that puts it better than I have.