Like a Lizard

Friday, 10 July 2009

Earlier this week, I blogged about changes to the newscast I anchor, KVAL News at 11.

Here's the rub: Used to be, Dave and I would sit at the desk on our 1980s purple set and both anchor a 30 minute newscast. It looked something like this:

Now, Dave is working dayside so he can be on special assignment and finally get a good shift after 15 some odd years working for the company. SO that means some changes. We've moved to a solo-anchor show (which is exciting for my career) and we're trying a faster paced newscast with shorter stories, wipes and more interaction with viewers. We use KVAL's website, emails and Twitter as tools to generate feedback and news sources. The new format looks something like this:

Yes, there IS a difference. Things change and I for one, do not necessarily like change. In the professional TV news world, viewers DESPISE change and especially the older demographic. Backlash is to be expected any time an anchor cuts her hair, is hired in a new city or alters the look of a newscast.

Several viewers have made their opinions about our new format very clear by sending in emails to our newsroom - which to my humiliation, everyone reads. They've contained insults, complaints and one caller today told me women should not be doing the news by themselves - "There needs to be a man there too. But if I was younger, I'd date you." Sexism is alive in Eugene, Oregon.

Point being, this has been a week of professional growth and the transition period is not over. I have pulled out my thickest lizard skin to deal with the backlash of change. Yes, we have gotten compliments. One couple emailed me to say they just moved from San Diego and they appreciate the fresh style of the newscast. I've also gleaned 10 new Twitter followers from our viewer area. But this is not easy. Dave game me great advice today: Don't take it personally.

I've responded to every email that has come in asking viewers to keep the feedback coming, saying we welcome their opinion. Some have written back again and I think they were surprised to and even get a response.

This rough patch will pass, I know. I also realize I'm not the only one that has little, sharp attacks coming in daily. If you're going through a low point like I am, put on your lizard skin. The scrapes aren't that deep - and you won't even feel them after a while.


Chris F. said...

Change is never going to be entirely comfortable even when you are the one who wants change to happen. Just trust your instincts and stick with it. If changes need to be made later, then so be it. But give it time for the format to find its legs.

Anonymous said...

Change is hard. But, rest assured, you look gorgeous, smart and VERY professional. I like the new format better.
You can read this aloud in the newsroom if you want.


Denae said...

Awwww CC and Chris F - thank you so much for the encouragement! I feel better after reading your comments. Seriously.

Ted Stryk said...

Denae, before I say what I am going to say, let me state that I think that real sexism still is a rampant problem. That said, when it comes to comments made both on articles and to stations (and other institutions) via the internet, I think that there is a serious problem with trolls. In the case of comments about a story, it is usually via so-called "loki trolls" - trolls who present a straw-man argument and defend it using insults in order to hijack the discussion and turn it into a melee (the troll simply wants to start a fight). When it comes to comments to the station/institution, the intent is to irritate...I think that this is what you are dealing with.

Denae said...

Ted - I've never considered this and I think you are right! Thanks for opening my eyes to the idea of trolls. I took it personally and sometimes people just want to start a fight. Thanks again.

Thabang Motsei said...

D - I watch both newscasts and let me just say that I actually prefer the new look. It's fresh and engaging and I want to listen to you. This is where news presenting is heading, more audience interactive and less stiff presenting. I say well done and it can only get better and better. Well done darling.

PS: DOn't listen to the negative feedback,you do what you do!

Lots of love T

Ted Stryk said...

As for the format, the desk is of course a vestigial legacy feature of many sets, a holdover from the pre-teleprompter days when the newscaster needed somewhere to place the news stories. The new format looks good.

JyoNah said...


Sometimes I watch the 11 o'clock news just because you're on it.

And your new format rocks.