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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 6: Conclusion: What Community Discussion about Anchors Reveals about Journalism 169

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Chapter 6 Conclusion: What Community Discussion about Anchors Reveals about Journalism The arrival of a new communication technology can be threatening to the identity of an established media institution. The capacity to radically alter the way the job gets done raises the possibility of fundamentally altering the nature of the job itself, and to redefine the job is to redefine the institution. Gwenyth Jackaway, 1995 his book has been a study of adaptation and improvisation. Specifically, it has been an examination of the ways in which an established interpretive collective responded to technological innovations in communications. Just as Jackaway tracked the media wars that ensued from radio’s challenge to newspapers in the twenties and thirties and found that ultimately the contest between media is a contest of values, so too has that been found to be true of television journalism’s challenge to previous forms of journalism. Journalists’ adaptation to television technology manifested itself in particular ways. These ways, as personified by the network television news anchor, threatened the existing identity, practices and values of the established journalistic community. TV anchors and reporters practice journalism in a way that radically alters the nature of the journalist’s job. When one is dealing with interpretive struggles, they are often a matter of degree and proportion. TV journalism played upon certain tensions that already existed to a lesser degree within the journalistic community about the journalist’s appearance, personality, fame, emotional displays, qualifications for selection and promotion and compensation. TV inflated the proportion of the...

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