By Ron Allen, NBC News correspondent
It's been quite a week around here, and I've been fascinated by the feedback about our series on African American women. I think some of the stats -- like the 70% single parent birth rate in the black community -- are pretty shocking. I knew there were a lot of kids born to single moms, but that many? I think a lot of other people are amazed by that, too. And I think showing numbers like that to millions of people is pretty powerful.
One comment said that our series is "not in-depth" enough. But in the context of a half-hour news program, these stories have been pretty long, and some have taken many more hours than usual to produce and edit. What you see on the Nightly News -- all 22 minutes of it -- is only a starting point. We're putting more effort than ever before into the web site so that hopefully we can offer more depth.You'll find plenty of longer pieces, related links, and web exclusive reports there.
Someone wrote "please leave us alone" instead of doing a whole week about "how badly we're doing." I guess the glass is always half-empty or half-full. None of this information is best left in a closet, like some well guarded family secret. No one's trying to bash black men. Facts, as they say, can be stubborn things. Many of us feel that some of this is difficult to watch, and painful to get your head around.
And, lastly, I read, "it begins the discussion." Better yet, hopefully, the discussion will continue.
It's obvious that it's rare for a network like NBC to pay so much specific attention to the African American community. So why do it? I think it's a sign that things are changing a bit, and day by day the folks who run this place are seeing the importance of covering stories that impact a wider range of people in this country. Some of that is the result of much deliberation, and frankly some of it just makes good plain business sense, especially in a country with a rapidly changing demographic pattern where people have many new ways to "consume" news and information.
If you've been watching NBC News closely, you may have noticed there's been more diversity -- not just in stories like the African American women's series, but in everyday stories on the newscasts. We're looking for experts, analysts, families, issues and perspectives from a wider range of people. In fact, there's a mandate to do it. No, I'm not naive. Yes, we still see a lot of black people in trouble. And yes, everyone around here knows there's more work to do.
I've not done a survey, but it feels like we're looking more like America. Behind the scenes we're becoming more diverse as well.
But here's the bottom line: I hope you see this series for what it's meant to be, an attempt to take a hard look at some issues of importance to the African American community that are usually ignored, and that's a good thing. Those of us reporting and producing the stories take all of this quite seriously, and are trying to understand the broader context it's all happening in. I hope it continues to be very successful. Because success builds on itself. I hope it generates tons of email. I hope those of you who hate what you see keep writing. Tell us what you think we should saying. I admit we can sometimes get isolated in our own world. I used to travel around the world a bit, and I understand there are a lot of different realities out there. Because, frankly, the only way we're going to get things right is if more of you, and not the same old people, tell us what's happening.
Hopefully, all of this has been an opportunity as well, for you to speak out, and for us to listen.