The Ego Has Landed (Page Counting Anchors)

I had a conversation this week with a news producer at one of the television stations in Memphis and that producer shared with me the latest headaches of dealing with the egos of some anchors. According to the story shared with me, an anchor was just livid that the other person anchoring on the desk in this particular show got more stories to read in that particular half hour. To top everything off, this particular anchor was going to take this matter higher up the food chain, perhaps even outside the newsroom because this just could not be tolerated. “Oh the humanity. Is there no justice in this world?” What next, “Peace without honor?”
The conversation reminded me of one of the reasons I’m glad to be out of television news.
Don’t get me wrong. One has to have an ego to want to be in front of the camera to begin with. However, there are those who generally keep everything in check and then there are those known as “God’s Gift to TV News.” “Their public needs them.” I always felt I kept a pretty good perspective on the TV business while I was in it, especially after working with some who didn’t.
I worked with one person who not only kept things in perspective, she (in my opinion) was the most down to earth and laid back person I ever anchored with. I’m talking about Marybeth Conley. She told me once when we were first working together on the morning show that she really didn’t care how few scripts she read during the show. She said they paid her the same whether she read one story or all of them and reading less meant more time for her to balance her checkbook or make grocery lists which she often did while on the set. It was a philosophy that served me fairly well for the rest of my career in news.
Former news anchor Jerry Tate told me once he used to work with a person who was quite the script counter as well and that it grew quite tiresome after a very short time. Yes, it doesn’t take long for everyone to know in the newsroom that the “ego has landed.”
One final note: It would be interesting to see how many producers in the various newsrooms in Memphis get chewed out by the anchors who think I’m writing about them.

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14 Comments on “The Ego Has Landed (Page Counting Anchors)”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Now Joe, really! I thought all the anchors were just as sweet a group of people who ever walked the face of the earth.
    You mean to tell me that they could actually be like the rest of us!?!? (Bad hair days, uncooperative floor directors, mid-life crisis, bad lighting)
    Gee willickers! I thought Marge Thrasher had retired years ago!

  2. Anonymous Says:


    I demand you stop writing about me right now. Don’t you know who I am?

  3. Average Guy Says:

    Is it any wonder why NDs and GMs refer to newsrooms as Adult Daycare?

    The GM

  4. jack church Says:

    Hi Joe,

    I worked with a couple of anchors in Texas that would actually go to the edit bay after the show and add up the amount of time they were on the air, not the story count. There were many a night that shouting matches would break out between the two anchors and our producer. I always felt sorry for the producer because she started being so afraid of not being able to evenly divide the newscast between the two of them that she would call me to get advice on how to divide up the time. Of course it was even worse when weather (my part of the show) got more time than either of them because of severe weather!! Boy, I sure miss being part of running adult daycare…NOT!

  5. Anonymous Says:


    I won’t have to worry about how many scripts I read during the holidays. If they schedule me to work on Christmas or New Year’s Day, I will just come up with some illness or maybe “hurt” my arm, so I don’t have to work You know just like I did this past Thanksgiving and last Christmas?

  6. Blake Johnson Says:

    The larger the market, the less bickering I found between anchors. The greener the anchor, the more likely I found them counting stories. I can say the nicest anchors I worked with where in the largest market I worked in.

    “It’s only TV. It’s not life and death.”

  7. Anonymous Says:

    “Anonymous said…
    I won’t have to worry about how many scripts I read during the holidays. If they schedule me to work on Christmas or New Year’s Day, I will just come up with some illness or maybe “hurt” my arm, so I don’t have to work You know just like I did this past Thanksgiving and last Christmas?
    9:57 AM”

    That is sad. I had to work a many days that were holidays. No I didn’t like it but if I want a paycheck to feed my family and keep my sick days for real “sick days” I went to work and made the best out of it. I just do not understand this younger generation.

  8. b Says:

    it’s not just tv… you should see how some folks at one local print outlet count bylines….

  9. growler Says:

    Joe, if I were an ND (and thank God I’m not!), I’d never tolerate this in my newsroom, and the anchors would know this up front. I dealt with this nonsense from anchors years ago, when I was a newscast producer. I was counting stories, and making the sure the anchor who opened the news last night wasn’t the one who opened the newscast tonight… Jeez, what crap!
    I don’t know how things are in Memphis, but up here in my snowbelt TV station, anchors are not “God”. We have a TV news operation that the viewers have loved for 30+ years — regardless of the anchors — because we do our darndest to chase down every story we can find, and the viewers obviously appreciate it!
    Anchors and news sets don’t mean diddly to the viewer. He/she wants to know about the interstate highway traffic situation, the weekend weather, what caused all that smoke downtown today, etc…
    In my view, anchors are a commodity; far from royalty.

  10. Joe Larkins Says:

    I have heard some pretty outrageous stuff coming from anchors over the years and as one person I chatted with remarked,”A lot of this overblown ego thing comes from younger anchors”. Once an on-air type understands that they are not some rock star or movie idol and that they’re just doing local television news, they seem to settle down. I will agree that this behaviour generally comes from younger folks who haven’t figured out to handle the attention although I’ve seen this from some folks who are old enough to know better.
    One young female anchor was overhead saying “It’s not easy being me” and I have no doubt she meant it.
    I also have heard from at least one producer since this thread started about how much nicer one normally pain-in-the-rear anchor has been.
    It was described as more than a little frightening since this particular anchor has repeatedly indicated by actions and words that the world revolves around the chair this particular anchor is occupying at the time.
    Apparently somebody saw himself or herself and either decided it was time for a reality-check (probably not the case) or is trying to figure out if one of the producers in (his or her) shop had made comments about him or her.

  11. Joan Carr Says:

    I find it interesting that the ego thing, temper tantrums and the counting stories often seems to come from the female anchor side of the desk.

    When I was a news producer, it often seemed the male anchor was the peacemaker who tried to soothe the female anchor when tempers would get frayed. Also most of the male anchors I worked with were much more likely to volunteer to help with the writing, while the female anchors were more likely to spend the time leading up to the show doing personal things, such as planning weddings, chatting on the phone, etc. Perhaps male producers find the opposite to be true (but as you know, there aren’t so many male producers out there anymore). There are obviously exceptions, but that was my personal experience over 15 years of producing news.

  12. AMNewsBoy Says:

    For the most part, I’ve been blessed to have good anchor teams to work with… no egos, no worries.

    I will say, though, that I did have to work with a page-counting anchor team that hated each other — but by the time I started dealing with them regularly, they were resigned to working with each other and given up.

  13. AMNewsBoy Says:

    On another topic: Albritton to buy KFSM? Wonder what that would mean for WREG…

  14. Richard Thompson Says:

    Hi Joe,

    Love the blog. Could you E-mail me at


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