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Join TSPR for a weekly conversation about media issues. News Director Rich Egger and expert panelists discuss what’s in the news about the news business.

TV Anchors: Journalists or Actors?

The Shop Talk panelists discuss a case out of California in which an appellate court decided the hiring of a weather anchor is basically a casting decision.

The RTDNA reported a meteorologist filed a lawsuit after he was repeatedly turned down for jobs at two CBS television affiliates in Los Angeles despite his experience and certified training.  The stations instead hired what he referred to as “younger attractive females” who were not certified meteorologists.

The justices concurred with CBS’s claim that the hiring of on-air personalities is a form of protected speech, and one justice wrote the selections of anchors were “essentially casting decisions.”

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Garcia is not surprised by the idea that some hiring decisions in TV news are based on looks rather than skills, but she’s concerned to see it being set in legal precedent.  She feels that – at least in the short term -- it hurts the credibility of a newsroom when an experienced reporter is replaced with someone younger and more telegenic.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said it seems to be a case of blatant discrimination, perhaps even a case of sexism in reverse.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.