CTAM Summit: Gregory Extends ‘MTP’ Brand Beyond Sunday

NBC Moderator: Viewers Want to Be in Active Conversation

Where NBC’s Meet the Press used to be just about booking the best guests, the current media landscape means viewers are demanding more interactivity from the broadcast, moderator David Gregory said at a CTAM Summit general session yesterday afternoon.

“The experience piece of Meet the Press and what people expect of that piece is changing,” he said. “Viewers want to be in an active conversation, they want me to hear them just as they hear me.”

 Though Gregory does things like checking Twitter during his show to update viewers on what people are talking about in real time, he concedes he needs to do more to drive engagement.

“It’s a struggle; it’s a real challenge,” he said. “I don’t think I’m really getting it yet.”

Gregory said Meet the Press has to use social networking as much as possible to drive viewing, as well as to talk to viewers afterwards about what the take-away is. He does that in part with “Press Pass,” which makes exclusive extra content available online to supplement the broadcast.

 “We see a need for the Meet the Press brand to be extended beyond Sunday,” keeping the show part of the conversation throughout the week, he said.

 That effort is what Gregory sees as a shift toward “a responsibility to find our viewers rather than assumption that they find us.”

 Speaking at the conference on the eve of the second presidential debate, Gregory also weighed in on the increased scrutiny on the debate moderators in the 2012 election.

 “I believe in a strong moderator,” he said. “The moderator should not be taking over the proceedings, but moderators play an important role in accountability, pinning the candidate down and forcing answers to questions.”

Gregory believes the polarization of much of the media is to blame for the debate moderators getting as much scrutiny as the candidates. In that way, he sees an increasingly important role for Meet the Press to offer information among the polarized fragmentation.

 “The revolution of information makes quality all the more important,” he said. “I feel an incredible challenge to navigate this path smartly. Being constructive is one of the most important things to add to the national conversation.”