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TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition

How Journalists Adapt to Technology

Kimberly Meltzer

Through the lens of TV news anchors, this book examines the impact that television news has had on traditional journalistic standards and practices. While TV news anchors boost the power, adulation, and authority of journalism in general, internally, the journalistic community feels that anchors undermine many key journalistic values. This book provides a historical overview of the impact they have had on American journalism, uncovering the changing values, codes of behavior, and boundaries of the journalistic community. In doing so, it reveals that challenges to journalistic standards provide an opportunity to engage in debate that is central to maintaining journalism’s identity, and demonstrate the ability of the community to self-regulate. The result is that news anchors are kept in check by the community, and the community is prompted to reexamine itself and evolve. The book’s findings also offer suggestions for thinking about how journalists are dealing with the latest technological challenges posed by the internet and mobile technology.


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CHAPTER 1: Introduction 1


Chapter 1 Introduction his book has been a long time in the making. The seeds of interest in understanding the network television news anchor phenomenon were planted well before I began my graduate studies. When a 22-year-old who has visited New York City only a handful of times lands her first job out of college as Katie Couric’s assistant at the Today show in Rockefeller Center, the experience makes a lasting impression—one so strong that it sticks with her in academe until she eventually finds a way to turn it into a scholarly endeavor. After working closely with other anchors, I observed that while the job entailed some of what I thought of as “real” journalism, it also entailed many things that, to me, were not. Thus it was by an uncanny coincidence that the realization of this project coincided with a period of unparalleled upheaval in network television news. Upheaval took place on all possible fronts: heralding the transition into the third generation of the network nightly news anchors, a flurry of press surrounded Brian Williams’ replacement of Tom Brokaw at the helm of NBC’s Nightly News. For the better part of a year (2005–2006), speculation abounded as to what long-term shape CBS Evening News would take, such as the possibility of CBS experimenting with a multi-anchor or rotating anchor format on the evening news (Carter & Steinberg, 2005), until veteran newsman Bob Schieffer succeeded Dan Rather on an interim basis before Katie Couric was named as a...

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