Friday, July 06, 2007

Will a reality show compromise journalistic integrity?

This summer, a reality show was filmed in Tyler, TX at CBS affiliate KYTX called "Anchorwoman". It was about an actress from Los Angeles trying to make it as a reporter and anchor at a local television affiliate. She had no journalistic abilities or training and has been trained buy the television station as she worked at the station. It has caused all kinds of a fuss with the people within the television industry and in East Texas itself. One thing to point out about the East Texas region is that this region is an extremely conservative area. I am talking about deeep in the heart of the bible belt.

In an effort to advertise her arrival in the region, the production company for the reality show purchased ad space on billboards with her picture in a swimsuit inviting viewers to watch CBS 19 news at 5pm where she would be participating in that broadcast. That received a lot of backlash from viewers because she was only wearing a swimsuit (however, all you could really see was her face). The television station received many phone calls and emails. The station management did not avoid viewer's complaints and the General Manager did face the music per-se on one of their morning news broadcasts (of which, you can watch at KYTX's website) Even other Tyler affiliates joined in with the complaints. Local ABC affiliate, KLTV, which has been vocal with other events (see Rosie vs. KLTV), jumped in criticizing KYTX :

"One of the last sacred grounds of integrity in local television is the local newsroom, so I guess I would say I'm disappointed to see a station, much less one in our own community, that has evidently sold its integrity," said Brad Streit, vp and GM for KLTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tyler. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

The national media has also attacked them with reports on this new show. ABC's Good Morning America has done several reports as has Fox News Channel.

Does this show compromise journalistic integrity? Must somebody have a degree in Journalism just to report the news? What about those people just starting out in TV journalism? If television stations require experience before they hire people, how will anybody be hired in the first place? Where does anybody start?

Regarding KYTX..What will this do to their ratings? Will their ratings decline now that that "Anchorwoman" has now left the station? KYTX has only been operating since 2004, are they strong enough to survive the strife or will Dallas CBS affiliate KTVT be making a return to the Tyler/Longview DMA?

I guess only time will tell...

"Anchorwoman" will be airing on Fox this Fall beginning in August. It will be interesting to see what they show and what kind of local reaction they present to the "Anchorwoman" audience.
Photo Credit: (KYTX Website)
Update: Here is a clip of a news cast with the "Anchorwoman" from the Dallas Morning News

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