How do I look?: Journalism close up
"... imagery takes precedence over substance in television."
Found under the excerpt "Filling time between commercials," by Greg Byron.
Everyone probably remembers the movie Up Close and Personal staring Michelle Pfeiffer, and the part in it where she meets with her boss to go over her public persona. The people polled thought her too racy for that town--and they didn't like her hair. So, she was told to dye her hair and get a makeover. I related that scene to Byron's thoughts about the way consultants have modified news content. But it's hard to point the finger and contest the superficiality of it all, when TV news is the product of its environment. Today so many things are appearance based. I've even heard, second hand, about studies done to determine the likely hood of an attractive person being hired over an average looking person. I don't remember the figures, but the results say the better-looking individual has a greater shot at landing the job. TV news subscribes to the same agenda as any other television show, each being a primarily visually driven media. It's all just business. I think we could have inferred as much about news before ever reading Byron's essay. It does help to be aware, though. The problem I see is, if they are surveying focus groups and getting feedback that suggests this sort of type-casting or behavior is preferred best, what does that reveal about society's taste, and how do any of us go about correcting something like that? Maybe, all that can be done is to accept it for its faults and take away what good can be derived from it.