Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ageism & Discrimination in the News Business

You would have to be extremely clueless to know the news industry and not see the rampant discrimination. Ageism has been par for the course for a long time. Does one need to go back to the Norville-Pauley days to recognize it? Norville essentially has since proven herself in many ways, although she suffered "reverse ageism backlash" more than most. (That was so long ago that Norville now has to be the one looking for the "little pishers" trying to edge her out of the way.)

Kaity Tong remains a reputable, likeable newsperson, as does Marchiano in Sports and even Watkins as an anchor. (Watkins' contract, BTW, has NOT been renewed.) Kaity can still hold her own anywhere. None of the people mentioned in the article really look their age. (Can Kaity TRULY be almost 60???)

This being said, WPIX news is a train wreck and has been for quite some time. I believe it's more technically-induced than anchor-initiated but something's not right somewhere. I have literally watched the 10pm news fall apart mid-cast and the spirit of the anchors along with it. Methinks letting Berlamino go was a wise move because of this.

I watch WCBS and WABC news most frequently and although WABC has been riddled with tech problems for a while (appears to be more switcher and automation related than anything), their reporting and anchors remain professionally solid. (Except for the major Good Morning America faux pas last week during which Robin Roberts spread the word that "26 billion--1 out of every 7 people in the world--will be watching World Cup Soccer events at some point over the next 30 days..." I had just woken up in my autoimmune-disease-fog-ridden-state and knew how out of whack such a stat was. There are less than 6.9 billion people in the entire world!! But I digress...)

At least WABC appears faithful to their "oldtimers" more than most stations. And with good reason. You'd be a fool to let go of solid journalists the likes of a Diana Williams.

WCBS seems to ask the most of their anchors (Mary Calvi & Chris Wragge especially) and they come through with flying colors. They're solid, likeable and I sure hope they're getting paid for keeping the local news afloat (and in Wragge's case, the The Early Show Weekend... he's anchored the 11:00 news on a Friday and manages to co-anchor network at 7am the next morning with style and professionalism).

I worked behind the camera in news for several years and I can tell you that the industry kills many of its most dedicated. It took the best years I had left. Because I let it. Dedication to this or any job at the sacrifice of your health and mental well-being (regardless of your desire to make an impact and do good for others) is a mistake. I still physically suffer now (SEVEN YEARS LATER) and hardly anyone I worked with has looked back--despite the fact that I sourced THREE emmy-award winning stories before I left and few have even whispered my name.

Am I bitter? No, I'm really not. I let what happened to me happen. All I needed to do was walk away. Instead I stayed until I could barely crawl away. A word of warning to all: Monitor your health. No story, news director, paycheck... nothing is worth your health. Just look at the list of wonderful news people (not just in the large markets) who died from cancer... When your body's talking, listen. Don't put off a doctor's appointment to share the next big story. Because the one after that could be YOUR obit.

But a healthy older person who still has the chops... There's no reason for them to be drummed out and shame on all who think that's the way to go. Hope it bites you in the a$$ but good. Karma's a sonofagun. I just may smirk as I see it do its work.

Now if only someone at PIX could explain why anyone thought the scandal-mired Mendte was a good idea... I really try not to be mean but he was a washed up blowhard way before he made his way across the East River to share his mindless drivel on the airwaves--and get paid for it???

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone read this crap? You write about how veteran news people have value and then call Mendte washed up. Have you seen this guys acomplishments, awards and resume? He may be THE most qualified person to be on air. I could care less if he a vindictive woman sicked the feds on him. He is a newsman.