The Decline of the Male TV Anchor

Apparently it's not just me.

Back when I was in college, I was involved in journalism in various capacities, in the classroom and at student newspapers. I couldn't help but notice in each place I went, women far outnumbered men. The Star-Tribune of Minnesota has picked up on a similar trend in the television industry. Men seem to be disappearing:

In TV news these days, a good man is hard to find.

At the
networks, men still rule -- Katie Couric notwithstanding -- but at the
local level, women have taken the lead. Nationally, they account for 57
percent of TV news anchors. [...]

The male disappearing act
starts in the classroom. At the University of Minnesota this fall,
women outnumber men 227 to 125 in the professional journalism major,
which includes broadcasting. Ken Stone, a broadcast journalism
professor who spent 20 years working in radio and TV news, has 10 women
and six men in his advanced reporting class; he said that's as balanced
as it gets.

Stone traces the trend to the 1970s, when women and
minorities protested about domination of the airwaves by white men. One
of his first journalism professors asked the men in his class to stand
up, then told them, "Get a new career, there are too many of you." [...]

The TV news talent pool is so inundated with women that they find
intense competition for jobs. "If she's really good, chances are there
are 20 or 30 other really good females to compete with," Stone said.
"It's way easier for a female to get a producing job than it is for
them to get an anchor job." [...]

Some present and former broadcasting students are getting turned off
because they don't think the profession has the gravitas it did in the
days of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow.

"Twenty-five years
ago, whoever was the best at delivering the news got the job, and I
think today it's more glamorized," said University of Minnesota senior
Adam Somers, who is focusing on a career in radio. "They're pretty much
making stars out of their anchors, and that doesn't interest me."

the piercingly blue-eyed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. His face regularly
appears on magazine covers, he made People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive
list in 2005 and even has an online fan club.

Dan Wackman,
director of undergraduate studies at the U of M, believes that
television journalism is losing out on some of the brightest people:
"They're going into business and engineering, because they can make a
lot more money."

For Chad Hamblin, who once majored in broadcast
journalism, it's not just about the money. Hamblin has decided to forgo
the anchor chair to follow his dream in theater. During an internship
at a local station, he said he was turned off by "all these anchors
walking around caked up with makeup. I thought I might as well go into
some actual entertainment as opposed to entertainment masquerading as

What I'm thinking:

  • There are political implications for this since women are more liberal than men. If men's numbers shrink in the newsroom, coverage will be more likely to be liberally biased
  • Minorities' numbers have not increased in journalism. Most of these new women are white. Very few are minority men.
  • It's ironic that the problem seems to be self-perpetuating. You'd think men would figure out where all the women are at during college.
  • I'll bet anyone $1,000 that the Prof. Stone quoted in the piece would never tell his white female students to get up and leave the classroom
  • It's ironic that sexual and racial diversity are big concerns within the media business but political diversity isn't. According to the groupthink, white men cannot think outside their backgrounds. Liberals who think Bush stole both his elections apparently can, though. Nonsense.
Feminism Broadcast Television Regional Media Media Business Non-political Bias Journalistic Issues
Matthew Sheffield's picture