Monday, January 16, 2006

MALE TV NEWS ANCHORS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES

I've missed ranting about the media lately because of the election and all of that nonsense. So anyway, here's a long overdue TV news rant. I read this article in the Boston Globe about how there are fewer and fewer male TV anchors.

Seems that the number of women in these broadcast journalism programs outnumbers the males by a margin of something like 10-to-1. I'm not surprised. I've noticed that the TV journalism industry is overrun these days by female news reporters trying to get ahead. When guys pursue TV it's generally to try and get into sports reporting. I ended up pursuing sports reporting, mainly because I was much more interested in the sports stories I covered and was also much better at it. I also felt news departments were mainly looking for female news anchors and didn't feel I'd get very far in a female-dominated business.

Look at CBC Newsworld, that network is absolutely overrun with female news anchors, with the exception of Peter Mansbridge and a few other folks. Women are also taking over the newscasts in the USA as co-anchors at World News Tonight and Nightline, and Katie Couric is still the leading candidate to take the chair at the CBS Evening News. So the guys are exiting the air, fast. I'm not making any value judgements about this, I really don't care. It's just a fact of life for the news business right now, guys don't want to be news anchors or even in the business.

I couldn't blame guys for wanting to go a different direction in broadcasting. Look at it this way. If you're a guy, who would you rather be, really: Bob Costas, or Anderson Cooper? Case closed! I don't know too many guys who'd be interested in being Anderson Cooper right now. But that's what these news directors seem to want. They want clones of him, and clones of Matt Lauer or Stone Phillips or any of these other blow-dried TV news people. Who wants to be judged on your looks or your appeal to the female segment of the audience?! Who needs it.

It used to be that guys could pursue TV news in the hope of being the next Edward R. Murrow. Now it has increasingly become a vanity business. You have to have the right image for these news executives; moreover, you have the added disincentive of covering these freaking celebrities and missing-persons cases for news. And even if you do end up covering cool hurricanes you'd still have to face a lot of death and destruction and misery on the job. That's the real reason why guys are turned off, not because of the crummy pay or any of that nonsense cited in that Boston Globe story. Let's face it, this is no place for guys! GUYS HATE DOING TV NEWS.

I think another problem is that in TV news there's a lot less political reporting going on these days, too. I think a lot of guys would actually be interested in pursuing TV news if they had some assurance of covering politics more, because lots of guys are interested in politics. But there's much less opportunity to do that these days. And frankly there are better ways to get close to politics than TV news, as people like myself have discovered. Anyway that's my rant about a business I've seen up close.

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