This post was originally published on my personal Facebook Page on Sep. 8, 2016.
Social media has blown up over the past 24 hours over a published comment regarding the clothing worn by a journalist while covering a news story in Minnesota. A local newspaper critic referenced the reporter’s wardrobe choice on the day she covered what perhaps was the biggest story of the year; the confession of the man who kidnapped and murdered Jacob Wetterling. The reporter, Jana Shortal is one of Minnesota’s best. She did her best work that day. Many reporters covering this story did. Unfortunately a pair of pants has now overshadowed that journalistic effort. News flash. Today, we do not require our story tellers to conform to a “perfect” look. Oh boy…back in the day we did! I remember shoulder pads, bow ties and the perfectly hair sprayed styles of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s women in broadcasting endured —to take a chair at the anchor desk along side our male counterparts. I also remember the hand written letters from viewers who felt compelled to write us—if our hair wasn’t perfect. I have a stack of them. They didn’t hesitate to call our news directors or stop us on the street to share their views.
I remember wearing a pair of glasses on air back in the 1980’s. A newspaper reviewer referenced my “goggles.”
Today as we bring the news to our viewers day in and out… we as women in the news business have earned the right to grow old, embrace our wrinkles or extra pounds or wear the clothes that make us feel good in our skin as long as it doesn’t impact the way we perform our jobs. We can do this and stay true to our craft. My advice? Get the facts, deliver them in a clear and concise fashion. Don’t fail to show all sides of the story. Listen to your audience but also listen to your heart. And make sure you correct your spelling before it ends up on air. Now get out there! There is news to report.