Monday, May 05, 2008
A good number of people chimed in after the Derby in regards to Eight Belles and I wanted to share my thoughts in this spot. Overall, I thought NBC's coverage of the Derby was pretty good throughout the afternoon. Sure the Billy Bush stuff was a little dumb, and just like I did with FOX I question their use of the word "star", but overall I thought the network's coverage balanced both the fun of the Derby and the coverage of the race itself. Sadly, everything today boils down to how NBC handled the death of the second place finisher Eight Belles.
The question that everyone seems to be asking today is whether the horse's collapse and subsequent death should have been televised and covered more closely. NY Times' writer Richard Sandomir even went so far as to say that NBC wasn't prepared to cover the death and was scrambling to get anything to air. Having only eight cameras solely focused on specific horses (none on Eight Belles) might have aided in that line of thinking, but in the end I think we're all better off. According to NBC Producer Sam Flood's interview with USA Today the horse was "writhing" and the injury was "gruesome". If things were happening they way Flood described them then there's not a chance I would have ever wanted to see that. The reality is that families and children watch the Derby with regularity (I grew up watching it every year) and NBC made the correct call. I thought the varying emotions of those in the winner's circle and the reporting on Eight Belles provided enough of a story.
When death is involved, whether it be animal or human, I think we're all better off just getting reports from the people on-site rather than seeing the images on the screen. Of course that's just one man's opinion, feel free to leave yours in the comments.