What’s the Big Deal with Somebody With NO Experience Suddenly Anchoring a Newscast?

The world as we know it has come to an end!  It’s another nail in the coffin of local TV news.  The business of local TV news has become a joke and a laughingstock.  No one will ever take us seriously again. 

I would imagine those are comments made in TV newsrooms around the country after the airing of the reality show Anchorwoman on Fox TV.  (For those not familiar with it, a former model/Bob Barker Beauty was put into the anchor chair at some podunk station in Tyler, Texas and a video crew followed her around as she learned the news business).   No, I did not watch it and I don’t plan to watch it.  For one reason, I’m not much on reality TV.  Never have been, don’t plan to be anytime soon.  If I want reality, I don’t have to watch someone else on TV, I just go about my life.  As for some news director or GM hiring a pretty face who has no experience other than the fact that she (or he) is good looking, they do it more frequently than some realize.  The most blatant example I personally witnessed was about ten years ago when a ND I worked for hired a woman as an anchor/reporter when her primary experience was doing an overnight 2-minute cut-in.  One of the assistant managers at the time (and he reads this blog) apparently pointed out the woman’s lack of experience.  The ND’s response: But she sure looks good! (or something to that effect).  I think the asst. manager thought the news director was going to let her pass but the ND ended up hiring her.  His rationale: He would send her out with an experienced and seasoned videographer to train her to be a reporter.  That’s what happened and she moved on to bigger and better things for a while.  And this isn’t the first time somebody with no news experience has stepped into an anchor or TV host position.  Wasn’t Andrea Thompson on the TV shows Babylon 5 and NYPD Blues before she  stepped into  an anchor role  at a local TV station and then CNN?  What were Greta Van Sustren  and Catherine Crier doing before they landed spots on CNN.  They were in the legal profession.  How many female anchors were beauty pageant winners ready to promote world peace before they became TV anchors.  And I’m not picking on women here, it’s just that there isn’t a reality series (yet) called “Anchorman” where they take bodybuilding hunks and put them on  the anchor desk.  But I’ve seen that basically done before when former athletes park themselves in the sports anchor chair.  The reality is that TV news wants good looking folks fronting their newscasts.  You won’t find too many aging and ugly folks on TV anymore.  Viewers want people who are generally easy on the eyes delivering their news to them.  It’s also generally cheaper to find a “looker” who will practically work for nothing to get that big break and then move on after a couple of years.

So, the bottom line, the world will continue to operate as normal even if a former model becomes a news anchor.  And I would imagine viewership for local news will continue to drop and it’s not necessarily because of who is sitting at the anchor desk.  The world is changing and TV stations like the one in Texas are doing whatever they can do to attract viewers if they want to survive.

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6 Comments on “What’s the Big Deal with Somebody With NO Experience Suddenly Anchoring a Newscast?”

  1. Doug J. Says:

    “they do it more frequently than some realize”

    And that’s really all that needs to be said on the matter.

  2. Doug J. Says:

    But wait — apparently Fox had ONE more thing to say. This was on FTV Live this afternoon:

    BREAKING! Fox Cancels Anchorwoman

    That didn’t last long!!!

    Here is an email that was just sent out to Fox Stations:

    To: GENERAL MANAGERS

    GENERAL SALES MANAGERS

    PROGRAM DIRECTORS

    PROMOTION MANAGERS

    TRAFFIC MANAGERS

    Fr: ANNE SCHWARZ, SCHEDULING

    Da: AUGUST 23, 2007

    Re: ‘TIL DEATH TO REPLACE ANCHORWOMAN

    FOX will run back-to-back episodes of ‘TIL DEATH on Wednesdays for the next three weeks, and the remaining episodes of ANCHORWOMAN will not air.

    On THREE WEDNESDAYS, AUGUST 29, SEPTEMBER 5 and SEPTEMBER 12, 2007, from 8:00-9:00pm (ET/PT), FOX will air back-to-back encore episodes of ‘TIL DEATH!

  3. Bob J. Says:

    Forty years ago, journalist Edward R. Murrow said the new medium of television had the potential to educate, illuminate and inspire. However, Murrow said, it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely lights and wires in a box.

    As we look at the state of broadcast journalism today, all I can say is look at the pretty lights.

  4. joelarkins Says:

    As always, well said. Good hearing from you Bob. I would imagine your life has a whole lot less stree these days with the shuttle back safely on the ground. Darn those heat shield
    tiles anyway!

  5. joelarkins Says:

    That would be “stress”!

  6. Bob J. Says:

    Nice to read you online! The day-to-day editorial struggles at a federal agency are much the same as they are in daily local news, however, instead of consultants we have politicians. When I was considering leaving journalism I asked a well-respected mentor about the decision. He said, “You can either write about history or you can be a part of it.” Seeing where teevee was going, it was an easy decision.


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