Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why Not Christiane Amanpour For CBS Anchor?

In my previous post you heard from Netizen Jill Geisler, at The Poynter Institute. Let's now pursue another line of inquiry. Does a woman have to be a "looker"...or just plain "perky", to succeed in the rough and tumble world of network TV?

Let's hope not.

A case in point is Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, who risked her life daily to report from Bosnia. She wore one of two striped shirts for each of her standups. When she was cold she donned a battered ski parka trimmed with fake fur, that had a hole burned into it by acid that leaked from a battery, she once told Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes. Standing before the camera she leveled her eyes straight at the audience, her feet firmly planted on the ground, clad in Dr. Marten boots, not high-heels. Occasionally she wore a scarf to soften her look.

For those of us starting out here was a real life role model for us to follow along a less-traveled and higher road.

But is Amanpour possibly the exception to network TV's unspoken "Golden Rule" ? Men can look grizzled and tired but women on air must be blonde and petite?

Well I do have to admit that if there were any advice I would offer Amanpour, it would be "Ditch your 60 Minutes safari jackets!"( Did you know that during the Vietnam War Hong Kong tailors called them TV suits? ) Otherwise Amanpour's "look" suits me just fine. But what some embrace as authentic and real, network suits may shrug off as " rough" or not " telegenic" enough for an anchor.

That Leads to My Next Question .

So why wasn't this ground-breaking dean of bang-bang journalism offered the vaunted chair at CBS instead of Katie?

Could it be that this bullet-dodging reporter looks too serious for a woman ? Did the number-crunching wonks at CBS read the recent study that says beauty often comes before brains when women are judged by others?

The New York Times reports today that two economists, Markus M. Mobius of Harvard and Tanya S. Rosenblat of Wesleyan University, ...reported on an experiment they ran that tried to undercover the root causes of the so-called beauty premium.
A prepublication version of their paper "Why Beauty Matters," was published in the March 2006 Economic Review.

A Lady Who's Paid Her Dues in Spades
This much is sure. Packed with integrity, Amanpour has worked her way to the top with solid hard work and bravery. She began graduating summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor of arts in journalism, where she was friends with John Kennedy Jr.

Kindly Correct These Myths If They Are Wrong

After that, Amanpour toiled in obscurity as an assistant as one of the numerous minions at CNN's International desk in Atlanta, beginning in 1983, for some long time. One of her booses denied her repeated requests to get out in the field. So I was once told by an editor in Atlanta.

If I err use the e-mail link to the right to set me straight. I don't want to create an urban legend. The link column for this blog only shows up if you are using Firefox or Safari for your browser.

...Back to Amanpour

While on vacation in Europe, taking a break from her desk job, Amanpour rushed to Berlin just as Germans began to pull the Wall down. When Amanpour phoned her bosses at CNN from the scene they really had no other choice but to assign her to the story. There were no other CNN correspondents around. So I have been told.

Little Foot Grows Bigger

All the rest is broadcast history as this obscure news desk assistant...a " little foot" who was at the right place at the right time... quickly became a mighty and courageous " Big Foot" who risked crossing snipers' free firing zones in Sarejevo to get the story right.

A Guy's Guy?
Some pundits call Amanpour "a guy's guy." Say what? Not this gutsy and talented reporter...Amanpour clearly remembers from whence she came and feels the responsibility to bring others along.

Sure, she swears like a trooper along with the best of the guys. And get this! She often carries the sticks ( tripod) to assist her camera operator . Does that make her a man?

I hope not.

I am told Amanpour toils with her crew in a true spirit of solidarity. She's no " bully broad". For sure she's not Leslie Stahl. In fact, in Bosnia, Amanpour often worked with an all- female crew. It works for her.

Don't believe me? Try to get somebody to say something bad about Amanpour.

No chance.

Heard From the Pulpit: For Women Only

See what I mean? Doing and being the right thing works. Especially if you're a woman.

When you're fighting for a story use your elbows to compete along with the best in the heated fray. But after, stepping from down out of the ring, do remember to take off the gloves. As you wipe the sweat off of your brow there may be a sist'ah standing next to you whom you elbowed while inside the ring, trying to get the big story.

But you're not in the ring now. So take a deep breath.

Try to be friendly. And if the sis'tah is just beginning in the biz take a deep look into her heart and try to decide if she's worthy of mentoring. Stop for a few minutes to chat and maybe offer advice. Hopefully there's enough of good things to go around.

And back in the newsoom just try to remember that one woman's promotion is not your loss. Jealousy and back biting get you nowhere.

But if the sis'tah is really a wolf in woman's clothing, just slide on by.

Do not engage. Believe me. This advice comes from hard-won experience.

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