WACH news anchors Darryl Hood
and Bree Boyce.
My frustration is not rooted in anything personal against Ms. Boyce. I have never met her. My frustration is rooted in the poor messages this hire sends to the community and to all of the aspiring young broadcast journalists spending tens of thousands of dollars of their money, their parents' money, scholarship dollars and grants to get formal training for a career that apparently requires only a certain level of celebrity and beauty to obtain. Students, forget about all that crap your college professors and other professionals who visited your classes told you about "paying your dues" or "having to cut your teeth in Podunkville, USA" before you get the chance to anchor a newscast in a place like Columbia, or better. Don’t worry about learning the craft or gaining experience. Just go out and do something that garners you major attention because those are the people television station general managers favor for anchor slots— one of the most high profile and significantly important jobs in the newsroom-- over formally trained and experienced journalists.
In addition to the message this sends to aspiring student journalists, what message do you think it sends to the folks already working in the newsroom-- in this case, the WACH newsroom-- who worked their butts off to get a degree, learn the craft and gain experience in those Podunkvilles so they could land a job in a newsroom where they hoped to grow and possibly advance to the anchor desk? If I were still at WACH and this was happening, I would be livid.
The viewing community should be livid, too. Clearly, the powers-that-be making these decisions think viewers are pretty shallow.
Don't get me wrong. A journalism degree, per se, is not necessarily needed to do the job. As Bryant Gumbel said during his farewell from the Today show many years ago, "this is not rocket science." A lot of good people work in television news who don't have journalism degrees, but they have other credentials (more than a pageant title and significant weight loss) and the ability to communicate effectively that allow them to be great journalists.
Sources tell me Boyce is going through what amounts to a crash course in how to be an anchor with a talent coach. Working with a talent coach isn't an issue. We all do it. But, if you don't already know how to anchor before you're hired to be an anchor... Ummm, "Houston, we have a problem."
Having said all of that, I'm asking the questions that I wish Otis Taylor, or some other journalist or, heck, anybody would ask: What in the world is WACH-- and other stations who make these kinds of decisions-- thinking?!? What effect does this have on newsroom morale? What do community leaders think? What do journalism academics think? What do viewers think? I have a difficult time believing that everybody thinks it’s fabulous that the former Miss South Carolina is about to instantly become a main anchor with no previous experience.
|Before & After: Bree Boyce|
WACH anchor Mike Woolfolk and
Arielle Riposta in 2005.
Photo: The Woolfolk Group
Bree Boyce is scheduled to make her television news debut on tonight’s WACH FOX News at Ten broadcast.