Anchorwoman: getting down to reality.

    How far-fetched is ‘reality’ anchor?
    Genuine anchor Tracy Davidson looks at a new reality series, in which a TV news team gets thrown a curve: A curvy nonjournalist.
    By Tracy Davidson
    For The Inquirer

    “Anchorwoman,” Fox’s new reality series, chronicles a wacky TV experiment: KYTX, a station in Tyler, Texas, hired Lauren Jones to deliver the news. She’s been a model, a beauty queen, and even a ring bimbo for professional wrestling. But she has no journalistic experience. Would ratings go up with Jones behind the news desk? Would the rest of the KYTX news staff revolt? And just how realistic is this reality series? We asked Tracy Davidson, NBC10 anchor and host of “All That & More,” to serve as our guest reviewer. Here’s her report:

    If you work in a TV newsroom, you’re going to laugh at Lauren Jones. You might hate her. Then you’ll wonder how far the business is from actually hiring someone like her.

    Jones is a former Miss New York and WWE diva – and when I say diva, I mean diva-who-wants-to-be-an-anchor. And in the tiny market of Tyler, Texas, a TV station general manager thought that would be a great idea. So in June, KYTX tried to turn the swimsuit model into a news anchor with a Fox camera crew documenting this “experiment.”

    Things start dramatically as Jones reports for her first day of work in a jaw-dropping outfit that leaves nothing to the imagination. The news director suggests she accessorize with a notebook and perhaps a jacket. Things only get better.

    The staff tries to teach her how to read a teleprompter. She can’t get through a story without spouting her opinions, expressing skepticism, for instance, that there really are nightclubs in Tyler. She even winks at the camera and blows kisses.

    Watching the rest of the newsroom react is just as entertaining. They laugh and take bets on whether Jones will totally fall on her face.

    Perhaps the most offended person at the station is the 5 p.m. anchor-producer, Annalisa Petralia. She feels this gimmick is a bad idea and she’s in the news director’s office saying so – adamantly.

    Petralia is a hard-working journalist whose middle name is integrity. She can’t believe this bombshell is going to sit beside her.

    As an insider, I can tell you it’s all good fun to watch. I can’t wait till my coworkers see this show, particularly when Jones does a rigorous round of butt squeezes to prepare for a broadcast.

    But there was one exchange that reminded me that while this is an exaggerated, comical situation, there is a thread of reality in this “experiment”: when the news director informs Petralia that Jones will be anchoring the 5 p.m. show that day and Petralia asks, “Will she be writing the news block?”

    It’s a logical question because Petralia also produces the newscast, and as such probably writes most of it. The lightning-fast answer from the news director: “No.”

    While I admit that I’m not as righteous about my passion for journalism as Petralia is, that scene fired me up. Jones is being propped up as a news anchor and she can’t even write her own scripts?

    I know, “Calm down, it’s just a TV show,” as my husband would say. But does this woman have any understanding of the issues at stake here?

    A Walter Cronkite-like mentor of mine taught me long ago that the job of journalist comes with awesome responsibility. People depend on you. They trust what you’re telling them. And you have to do everything in your power to deliver. That’s my image of an anchor.

    To see this blond bombshell, who knows nothing about what she’s reading – let alone how to write or construct a story – knocks my journalistic senses off kilter.

    The Anchorwoman scenario is extreme, but if you look closely there are more subtle examples that this is happening at some stations across the country. Beautiful faces, who would tell you “I want to be on TV” long before they would say “I want to be a journalist.” They get hired because of their looks by stations who think that’s the answer to a ratings slump.

    Somehow, the fact that these news newbies know little about getting and telling a story becomes less important when they are drop-dead gorgeous.

Oh, puh-leeze! As if Miss Davidson is a plain jane.

Well, maybe she is: she didn’t make the cut for TheIlladelph’s Hotties of Philly Local News, 1.0. I usually don’t watch channel 10, but opt for the Philadelphia ABC owned-and-operated WPVI-TV, channel 6, with a couple of major hotties in Jessica Borg and Erin O’Hearn. TheIlladelph’s description of Miss Borg was:

    Jessica’s been at WPVI for a few years now and we’re not ashamed to admit that if we’re at home and awake, we often find ourselves tuning in to watch her anchor Sundays at noon. Jess has the look. She’s from Long Island. Went to school in New York (graduated with honors from NYU). She even sometimes gets around ABC’s horrible, stuck-in-the-90s, shoulder-pads-required dress code and manages to show off her subtly ample rack. She’s also been on an episode of As the World Turns. That doesn’t really matter though. Jessica, what have you done for us lately?

Quite frankly, showing off the rack is what a lot of WPVI’s anchorbabes are expected to do. Cecily Tynan and Karen Rogers, both of whom are very visibly pregnant at the moment, are great at showing off the cleavage, and Erin O’Hearn, Amy Buckman and Erica Grow might all have reasonable résumés, but they also have looks.

Mrs Davidson asked:

But does this woman have any understanding of the issues at stake here?

I’d say that yes, she does. The issue at state is: will the television station which hired me increase its ratings, enabling it to charge higher advertising rates, and make a bigger profit? That’s the only issue of importance, and it’s always been the only issue of importance. Mrs Davidson would do well not to delude herself into thinking otherwise.