I was ready to hammer CBS hard over the Katie Couric digital diet.
Here they have been pushing Couric as the next Ed Murrow and essentially asking the world, and the catty media, to pay attention to her as a journalist rather than fixating on her hair or her clothes. And here they are fixating on her hair and her clothes.
Then there is the whole issue of doctoring photos, which is OK for a Britney Spears layout in some glamour mag, but raises–whether it should or not–the issue of believing what you see and hear on the news, where credibility is hard-earned and too easily squandered.
I still feel that way a bit, but let's get real. To suggest that news anchoring isn't about appearance, about people who are usually prettier, handsomer, better-dressed, better made-up than the rest of us, is ridiculous.
Digitally enhancing what is essentially a promotional photo in a promotional publication was not a wise move in hindsight, particularly what had been a news photo rather than a portraint, but the instinct in the publicity department is understandable in a business that, whether we want to admit it or not, is about appearances as well as journalistic chops.
TV Reporters get to look more like "not ready for prime time" print reporters–think Darren McGavin as Kolchak–but anchors are usually expected to be just as easier on the eye as the people who appear on ads. I'm not praising the policy. I wish looks didn't matter. But they do.
So, this is a high-profile faux pas given CBS' pushing of Couric's substance over style elsewhere in its promotional blitz, but it's hardly something that should raise our dudgeon status to "high."
By John Eggerton
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