Female newscasters face same old battles?

WIVB-TV, Buffalo’s top-rated news station, fired a long-time morning news anchor this week. By all accounts, she was liked and had a good reputation. She was, however, not your typical female TV news anchor. Although attractive, she was not a young, slender, model-like woman. (See an older clip of Lisa here.)

My first thought was she was fired because of her weight. I was not alone. Posts to The Buffalo News’s Talkin’ TV blog echoed my thought. For example, one poster writes:

I don’t care if the person reading the news weighs 250 or 85, is 4″2″ or 6’6″. All I care about, is that they know how to read, and do it in a professional manner. Lisa Scott did so, for many years for Ch 4, and to get rid of her is stupid, stupid, stupid.

I realize these are hard economic times and journalists everywhere are losing their jobs. WIVB says Scott’s firing was part of a restructuring of the station. (Lisa wasn’t the only one to lose her job. Reporter Ellen Maxwell, who had worked for WIVB for eight years, and an internet manager lost theirs, too.) I also realize that salaries for new reporters are a helluva lot less than for experienced ones.

However, I can’t help but think about Christine Craft and whether things have really changed much for female TV anchors and journalists. More than 25 years ago Craft was fired from her job as a TV anchor following a consultant’s report that said viewers thought she was too old, not attractive enough and not deferential enough to men. She sued and initially won her sex discrimination case, although that judgment was overturned eventually on appeal.

For Lisa Scott and others like her, I can’t help but think that things have not changed as much as we would like.


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