Top 10 Stories about Media in 2015

There was plenty of news being made in the media industry in 2015. From shocking surprises to unforeseen controversies, few could have predicted how this year would turn out. These are the top 10 stories about media during the year.

Brian Williams Out as Anchor of NBC Nightly News

A photo of former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.
Brian Williams was demoted from anchoring NBC Nightly News to a position with MSNBC in 2015. Photo © Alex Wong / Getty Images

News anchor Brian Williams saw his career take a tumble during 2015. At first, he was suspended as anchor of the flagship NBC Nightly News for embellishing personal stories of danger he said he faced while covering stories. Before the year was up, he was demoted to MSNBC where he now gets far less exposure. His replacement at NBC, Lester Holt, has maintained NBC's competitive edge in the network news race.

Donald Trump Uses the Media to Fire Up His Supporters

A photo of billionaire businessman and 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Just as Donald Trump can pull off wearing cufflinks and a ball cap, he can pull off making statements that outrage media critics but are applauded by many Republican voters. Photo © Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted the media during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. His supporters have loved every minute of it. Despite NBC's decision to end its relationship with Trump, who had hosted the reality show The Apprentice, Trump's exposure only grew during the year.

Steve Harvey's Monumental Mistake at the Miss Universe Pageant

A photo of Steve Harvey hosting the 2015 Miss Universe pageant.
Steve Harvey may have had an embarrassing moment, but his career will survive because he knew how to handle his mistake. Photo © Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Comedian Steve Harvey wasn't laughing as he committed one of the biggest on-air TV blunders of the year. He announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe pageant, then had to correct his mistake to a stunned audience. For anyone working in television, it was a lesson on what can happen in a live broadcast and what you must do to recover from the embarrassment.

News Crew Shot and Killed on Live TV

A photo of investigators standing near the WDBJ-TV live truck at the scene where a station news crew was murdered.
TV news crews are not immune to the same sort of violence that they cover every day. Photo © Paul J. Richards / Getty Images

The murders of a reporter and videographer during a live remote broadcast at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, served as a wake-up call to anyone working in television. Personal safety is usually an afterthought when a news crew is in pursuit of a story. Once it became known that a former colleague was accused of committing the killings, it showed the need for all journalists to focus on their personal safety, which only used to be a concern for reporters in war zones.

Ratings Plunge for American Idol as Final Season Planned

A photo of the American Idol TV stage.
The lights will go out on American Idol after a history-making 15 seasons on the air. Photo © Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

One-time ratings juggernaut American Idol hit a sour note in 2015 that will bring the music to an end for the show's 15th and final season in 2016. While Idol created stars, such as Kelly Clarkson from its first year on the air, several factors diminished both the buzz surrounding the show as well as its Nielsen ratings. Still, Clarkson as well as other contestants such as Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry have shown how TV can create music careers.

Controversy over Presidential Debates

A photo of the top ten Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 race at the CNBC debate.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidates successfully deflected criticism of their campaigns by focusing on the conduct of the CNBC debate moderators. Photo © Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Campaign 2016 got off to a rocky start in 2015 during the first few presidential debates. The issue didn't revolve around the candidates, but instead it was the debate moderators who found themselves in the crosshairs of controversy. Some moderators were accused of liberal media bias in the questions they asked and the tone they took toward the candidates. On the Republican side, some candidates were able to use this criticism to fire up their supporters.

College Students Turn Against the Media

Protesters at the University of Missouri celebrate the resignation of the university president, who was accused of being insensitive to racism.
While these protesters at the University of Missouri celebrate the resignation of the university president, some didn't want the media to record their actions. Photo © Brian Davidson / Getty Images

You would expect protesters to welcome media coverage as they try to spread their message. That wasn't the case at the University of Missouri, where people wanting to oust the university's president turned their anger toward the news media. Meanwhile, students at Smith College who wanted to show their support for protesters at Missouri banned the media from covering their events unless reporters pledged to personally support their cause. It seemed that no one ever considered the Freedom of the Press guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

News Media Criticized for Baltimore Riots Coverage

A photo of a car on fire in the Baltimore riots
In an effort to report the news, media outlets can become part of the story. Photo © Andrew Burton / Getty Images

News media outlets are sometimes accused of overblowing breaking news coverage, presenting more hype than fact. But during riots in Baltimore, reporters were accused of making tensions worse by covering what was happening in the wake of a man's mysterious death while in police custody. Reporters found themselves being criticized for covering the violence in the streets, which couldn't be ignored. At the same time, the amount of coverage did little to bring the chaos to an end.

More People Cut the Cord of Cable and Satellite TV

A photo of three young adults watching TV on a tablet.
Cable and satellite TV companies are faced with viewers who can watch their favorite shows on mobile devices. Photo © Pamela Moore / Getty Images

It used to be unthinkable to be a TV lover and not have a subscription to a cable or satellite service where you could watch ESPN or HBO. But an emerging trend has some viewers deciding to cut the cord to their traditional pay-TV service and use streaming or other similar products instead. Local channels just need an antenna to receive, much as was done in the pre-cable days of the 1960s and 70s. This presents a danger signal for cable and satellite providers in the years to come.

New York Times Makes Error in Covering Mass Shooting

A photo of the exterior of the New York Times building
Even a media icon like The New York Times isn't immune to mistakes in covering breaking news. Photo © Johnathan Torgovnik / Getty Images

The mass shootings at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, led to an embarrassing mistake by The New York Times. A reporter quoted a supposed Facebook friend of the shooting suspect. It turns out, the "friend" reportedly didn't know the suspect at all and had wanted to see if he could fool someone in the media into reporting his comments. While the Times only had the comments in a website version of a story for a few hours, it demonstrated that in breaking news situations, the scramble to get information should never stop journalists from verifying what they think they know.