Sexploitation of the News

September 16, 2011

in Uncategorized

I can’t swear to the veracity of this incident but the faculty believes it happened.  As the story goes, one of the journalism graduates from my college applied for a job at a small television station.  The executive interviewing her asked if she had ever considered getting breast implants.  He reportedly asked that question?  Outrageous.  Here’s why he dared be so stupid.

Sex sells.  Advertisers have known that for decades and have been using sexually provocative images to sell everything from cars to vacuum cleaners.  Today, television bosses are trying to use sex to sell the news. 

At my first broadcast job, a Top 40 radio station in Chicago, “Trooper 36-24-36” delivered the traffic reports during morning drive time.   Were those her measurements?  Not by a long shot.  But she was attractive and had a sexy voice.  I’m sure the men listening enjoyed hearing about traffic tie-ups from what they imagined to be a bombshell. 

But that was just the traffic.  In later years, shapely weather girls turned up on local TV stations.  They were young, mostly blonde, and wore revealing clothes.  But that was just the weather.  The sexy weathergirls went out of style when real meteorologists or funny forecasters were must-haves for local stations.  Of course, they were men.

When women, like me, began to get hired for reporting and anchoring jobs, we were delivering hard news.  We believed we had to present ourselves more like male anchors if we were to be taken seriously.  We had an unofficial fashion code:  professional, yet feminine.  Suits were the uniform and we would never draw attention to our femaleness.  We didn’t wear anything that would distract viewers from listening to what we were reporting.  Hairdos were helmet-like with nary a hair out of place.  Make-up was simple and used primarily to conceal skin flaws.

But, my, my, my, how things have changed.

Have you noticed lately how women newscasters dress, especially on the cable news channels?  Do they look like news anchors or Miss Americas?  What’s with the sleeveless clothes, the low cut necklines, the tight sweaters and pants?  Local female anchors now move around their news sets, teetering on 6-inch heels with nearly thigh high skirts. 

Their hair is long, voluminous, and those who are blonde often get that color out of a bottle.

The make-up looks like it’s been applied with a palette brush.  Brows are plucked to new heights. Eyes are coated with shadows and liners making them dark and smoky. The cheeks are rosy, and the lips glossy.  All dolled up to deliver the hard news: the hurricanes, the crime, the budget crisis, and the presidential campaign.

You may think I am just talking about women, but men are also striking sexy poses.  You can tell they work out.  Many appear in the field in short sleeve shirts with biceps bulging.  They also stand wide-legged or have one foot propped up on a boulder or piece of equipment. 

At least news executives are giving us equal opportunity sexploitation.  Both men and women are losing substance to style.

Since everything seems to be ratings driven, news executives apparently decided they, too, would sell news with sex.  Ouch.  But are the viewers listening to what’s going on in the world or admiring the beauties displayed on the screens before them?  I don’t think the stations care.

Too many young journalists today are more focused on their bodies than their reporting and they will do almost anything to be ON TV.

{ 8 comments }

Jonie Furlong September 18, 2011 at 4:05 am

You are so right. Every local station seems to have to have a blond female anchor for the six o’clock evening news.

Danielle October 8, 2011 at 2:46 am

and to think the Arab Spring happened because people want the freedoms of the west? Watch out Egypt, silicone and lip gloss is coming your way!

Robin Skeie October 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

This blonde mania has always driven me nuts.

About a year ago, I emailed a new female anchor at a local station both to complement her delivery of the news, but also to tell her that her dark brunette hair was beautiful. I told her to not allow anyone at the station to start streaking her hair with peroxide. Well, of course, after a couple of months, her hair started to fade to a washed out hue.

In any event, I’ve always questioned this taste for faded hair color, not just because of the obvious racism implied in it, but because of the whole perception of what constitutes beauty. Then I wonder, do none of these women ever complain about this. I know, I know. That is probably a stupid question.

Bette November 16, 2011 at 9:14 am

That’s the best awsner of all time! JMHO

Retha March 25, 2012 at 2:01 am

The women news anchors on CNN, FOX, etc. should take a good look at Diane Sawyer. She looks ELEGANT and is a pleasure to watch and listen to when she delivers the news, etc. When I see the “other” anchors in their too tight, too short, sleevless clothes, I immediately turn them off except for Megyn Kelly.

Frances August 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

So true Carol Simpson. I grew up watching you on ABC News and you were definitely top notch. What’s up with the sleeveless dresses with the women? I don’t ever see a man with a tank top on! C NN can’t seem to get the right bimbo combination to deliver the news and once you’ve heard the 1st hour of “news” it’s just recycled after that. No one wants to deliver informative, thoughtful and useful news anymore. Heaven forbid we add some diversity. In a country of so many types of people only white ones get to sit in the big chair? Very disappointing. I’ll stick to NPR thank you very much.

Barbara H. Smith November 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Why do female news anchors wear those sleeveless, too short dresses? Diane Sawyer looks elegant and she is fully clothed. Sleeveless in late fall or Winter???

Warren Lyons November 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

The answer is obvious. It improves the ratings. News is news, whether it is anchored by a man in a business suit or a 40ish woman with nice shapely arms and legs. Most heterosexual men, myself included, would rather see the latter, assuming equal quality of news reporting. If anyone feels that they are dressed inappropriately, or in the case of women, jealous that they don’t measure up, they are free to turn off the tube and turn on the radio or pick up the newspaper

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