It’s no secret that, for people who are on TV for a living, looks matter. The attractiveness of women who sit in anchor chairs or report from the field has been discussed quite a bit of late, in academic studies
and at least one age-discrimination lawsuit
It was also being discussed recently in a poll on AM radio station WDEA’s website, though not in a particularly academic or judicious way. DJ Fred Miller posted a poll asking listeners to rank “the hottest TV newswoman in Maine,” and listed the names of six reporters and anchors, along with photos and short personality bios.
What the poll entries lacked were examples of the newswomen’s substantive reporting work. At least two women in the poll, Melissa Kim and Jackie Ward, both of whom are reporters at NBC affiliates, declined to participate in the poll when Miller requested photos. They ended up part of it, anyway.
Mike Redding, news director for the stations where Kim and Ward work, WLBZ in Bangor and WCSH in Portland, told the Bangor Daily News
that the poll is “sexist and objectifying.”
“They find it demeaning, and I find it demeaning. Our whole newsroom is offended by it,” he said. “No journalist worth her salt would participate in a contest like this.”
At least one journalist included in the poll was fine with it, though. Nicole Gerber, a reporter and anchor at WVII, an ABC and Fox affiliate, used Twitter and Facebook to ask for votes.
WDEA changed the headline of the poll Monday
. It now asks voters to rank their “favorite” TV newswoman rather than the “hottest,” though the bios and pictures remain the same.
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Miller also added this update: “It seems we offended a few of you out there with our use of the word ‘hottest’ to describe these lovely and talented journalists. It was not our intent to offend, so we’ve changed it to ‘favorite.’”
Elisa Lees Munoz, director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, said Miller seemed “clueless about how insulting what he’s saying about these women is.”
In a Tuesday post, Chris Popper, WDEA’s “sports guy,” citing the “stir” the poll had caused, posted about two Maine newswomen who had been in beauty pageants