TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition
Kimberly Meltzer is an assistant professor at Georgetown University in the Communication, Culture & Technology Master's program. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Some of her courses include Critical Studies in Journalism, Communication in the Public Sphere, and Cultural Politics of TV. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Meltzer worked for news organizations including CNN and NBC.
Her 2010 book, TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition, examines the impact that television news has had on traditional journalistic standards and practices.
Chapters survey the emergence of TV journalists generally, and anchor people more generally; their appearance, personality and emotions; the impact and consequences of anchor appearance, personality, and emotion; how journalism “restores order” when its borders of practice are crossed; and what community discussion about anchors reveals about journalism.
The book’s tone varies from arch academic assessment to the almost anecdotal, making for easy and even compelling reading. In the end, Meltzer concludes that “the news” will clearly continue, though its form and formats are changing and will continue to do so. That the three legacy networks retained their anchors for two decades through the 1980s and 1990s, for example, may have masked the substantial changes going on with the rise of competition from 24/7 news resources.
The author is tapping into the complexities the role of the television news anchor has brought into the journalism community since the Second World War.
The author also digs into the myriad of criticisms hurled at the highly paid anchors from others in journalism, including their salaries, power, and on-camera attributes. She situates the anchor within an interpretive community framework of the journalism profession, with fellow journalists sitting in judgment of what is acceptable.
The main drawback of this work is that it perpetuates a common myth that has been surprisingly resilient over the decades among print journalists and media researchers: the idea that there was a magical time when journalism was real, reporting was objective, diligent work was rewarded, profits were secondary, and, most importantly, news was printed on paper.