Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Anchor Calls Bully out on Live TV

Since I work in television news, I feel obligated to post this story. A local News Anchor received a letter from a viewer that said this: "It's unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many years. Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you'll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle." The anchor took this opportunity to address the viewer's email on television. You can find the video clip here: (http://jezebel.com/5948276/the-best-thing-youll-see-all-day-local-news-anchor-has-on+air-message-for-man-who-called-her-fat) Since I am in this business, I will not express my opinion on this specific incident via my blog, but I am curious as to your thoughts. I will, however, give you my personal experience as an overweight newsperson.I have worked at every position in a news room there is. I have been a reporter, a photographer, a truck operator, a producer, etc... Feedback from viewers comes often and is usually not very nice. People have a certain opinion on how on-air personalities should look. As a reporter, I was only allowed to track my news stories without showing my face because of my weight. After a while my weight wasn't coming off, so I decided to stick with the behind the scenes stuff. I often wonder how different my life would be had I just lost the weight a few years ago and continued to pursue the dream of being an anchor. How would I have dealt with an email like this? With my current position in the newsroom I handle viewer concerns directly and one of the most common comments I get are based on how the female anchors look. How they do their hair, how they're dressed, the list goes on and on. If I had really been serious about my career as a reporter/anchor I would have had to have lost a lot of weight before a News Director would let me do stand-ups, as opposed to just voice tracking. How obsessed with my looks and how self-conscious would I be right now if I had lost weight at the start of my career? The emphasis people put on looks really does make me sick, but I am not naive. Your looks determine how people perceive you. If you look like a lazy slob, people will assume you are a lazy slob. If I am standing in front of a camera telling a news story I need to look credible and responsible. Being overweight is not responsible. Often I wonder if I will go back to reporting once I lose weight. A part of me says hell no just out of pure spite of the whole system, but another part of me wants to give it another go just to prove to myself that I can. For a long time I was so angry and jealous at thin reporters who got an on air position just because of their looks. Especially when I had to run camera for them instead of telling the story myself! I felt like my writing was so much better than theirs and I definitely worked harder than they did. I spent a lot of time being angry at News Directors and other reporters instead of addressing the real problem. I miss being in the field for sure, but do I want to go back to facing this kind of public scrutiny? Would it help me stay in shape out of fear of mean viewer emails? Who knows. My story is still being told. For shits and giggles, here's me running live camera at an election at my first TV gig back in Birmingham:

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