Touching a Taboo Topic

It’s one of those unwritten rules of television news anchors and reporters: Never let criticism bother you. The theory being that if you outwardly act as if you are bothered by it, it only leads to more slings and arrows from those people. Of course, having been in sports for a decade, I can plead ignorance and I will in this case.

One of the things that stunned me when I switched from sports to news was the amount of reaction there was to the move — in print and in blogs. Though I had been on television in this town since 1995, it seemed as if Pittsburgh had suddenly discovered that I worked at channel 4. I think that speaks volumes to how sports anchors are viewed by the public at large: part of the news team, but hardly playing the lead roles on a newscast.

When the move made the papers, it created some buzz and some questions among viewers but there was little reaction because it was part of a larger series of changes here at channel 4. Since moving to the morning desk, there has been plenty of positive feedback from viewers and people on the street as well as questions as to whether this is what I wanted and if this was a “promotion” or “demotion”.

While the majority of people have been nothing but positive, I do read the industry blogs and see there are some people aren’t pleased with my move to news or they are having trouble dealing with the fact that this one-time “sports guy” is changing roles, covering the more serious topic of news.

While the goal in television is to get everyone to watch your station, I don’t expect everyone to like me. I know there are viewers who do not like change and those who don’t think I make a credible news anchor because sports has defined my career. That’s fine. All I can do is try to grow into the role and get viewers to warm-up to me in this new role. I’m going to have my critics, but this is not the first time. I remember ten years ago when this station took a chance and gave an unknown 28-year-old the sports director’s job at a station once dominated by Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove. I remember a local paper polled readers as to their favorite TV sportscaster – and I finished third from the bottom.

Point is criticism is part of the business. TV is a fickle business and viewers can be even more fickle. All we can do as broadcasters is be true to ourselves and hope that if we do our best, we can win viewers over. I did it a decade ago and I think I can do it again so I look forward to the challenge. So far, we seem to be winning the majority of viewers over. Channel 4 was number one in the July ratings period from 5-7am.

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