Roger Mudd says there is a hole in the fabric of television news coverage, and he intends to fill it with the new NBC prime-time news magazine, "American Almanac."
The magazine begins its trial run Tuesday night at 10. From now through December, the show will air monthly in various time slots in an effort to find it a good berth. It goes weekly in January.
"We have discovered a hole that needs to be filled on commercial television," Mudd said in an interview. "The three network evening news broadcasts are sufficient to give the viewers a quick update on what's happened during the past 24-hour cycle and therefore, by necessity, those reports are brief and generally involved with the same kind of raw material that makes up stories.
"As a consequence, we found that the portrait of the country and the world that comes through each night on the three network broadcasts is one of a world that is fairly frantic--one of agitation, crisis, conflict, a little showdown between Congress and the White House, a dam that has broken loose, tragedy. An awful lot of the country and the people, we found, are not really getting reported about. And that's what we're trying to do."
The cover story on the first "American Almanac," inspired by the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will focus on the eight surviving members of the Enola Gay, the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb ever.
Contributing correspondent Connie Chung will report a segment on "Designer Genes," about a controversial new genetic procedure to select a baby's gender.
There also will be a segment on the owner of what may be the most exclusive men's clothing store in the world. Mudd reports on the "Weird Weather" of the 1980s, and what the weather might be like in 50 years. Anne Garrels reports on "Home on the Road," about the life of the driver of a 72-ton 18-wheel rig, and Roy Blount Jr., offers his views on the great Cola wars.