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Channel 4 News Needs To Recruit More Women


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Channel 4 News needs A Few Good Women.

The hiring of veteran Traverse City, Mich. anchor Diana Fairbanks for the 5:30 p.m. on Channel 4 and the 10 p.m. newscast on WNLO-TV (CW 23) in a few weeks is a start but more quality women are needed.

It should be noted that Fairbanks will compete at 10 p.m. weekdays with former Channel 4 anchor-reporter Melissa Holmes, who will anchor Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news on WNYO-TV.

It won’t be a fair fight for Holmes since the audience for Channel 4’s 10 o’clock news routinely triples that of Channel 2’s 10 p.m. newscast on a weaker station.

One of the unintentionally funniest lines of last week came from Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial, who was quoted in the Buffalo News as saying “his station is undergoing a ‘real nice makeover.’”

He probably was referring to the new high definition set that stilltalkintv reported weeks ago is being readied before the start of the February sweeps. The station already has had quite an ugly makeover of female staffers in the past two or three years.

Holmes is the latest female to depart. Her move highlights the need for more women at WIVB-TV, which has lost several veteran female reporters and anchors in the past several years.

In fact, more women have left the station for a variety of reasons – cutbacks, better opportunities, motherhood, not feeling wanted among them — in that time than remain at the station even after  Fairbanks comes aboard in less than two weeks.

It wasn’t so long ago that Channel 4 had the strongest group of female reporters in a business that attracted women because of its excitement, enjoyment,  educational and ego satisfaction factors.

The list of Channel 4 departures includes reporters Lorey Schultz, Michele McClintick, Ellen Maxwell, Jericka Duncan and Tricia Cruz, and anchors Lisa Flynn, Lisa Scott, Robin Adams (in sports) and now Holmes. You could add Lia Lando, who briefly anchored the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. news before declining a Channel 4 contract offer and taking a more favorable deal in Rochester.

The only women remaining on the on-air staff are veteran anchors Jacquie Walker and Victoria Hong and three younger women: Anchor-reporter Nalina Shapiro, who was hired out of college; Rachel Kingston, who was hired out of WBEN radio; and meteorologist Amelia Segal.

The station has about three times as many men on its on-air news staff, counting the sports department.

The quality of the women who have left Channel 4 is much superior than the quality of the newcomers who have taken their place as station management has followed a company edict to reduce payroll.

Fairbanks better be good because Channel 4’s female bench is very weak these days. There is no female currently on the staff that could be viewed as Walker’s eventual replacement if she ever left the business. Shapiro was more impressive when she began right out of college and hasn’t really grown in the anchor seat. When she anchors on weekends, Channel 4 looks like a college TV station.

In view of that, you might have expected Channel 4 would have made Holmes feel more wanted and tried harder to keep her before it was too late.

Holmes is joining a station that has a much stronger female bench. Channel 2 has the equivalent of 10 women on its news staff when you count part-timers. The female anchor bench is stronger because Maryalice Demler and Jodi Johnston are essentially both lead anchors.

Channel 7’s on-air news staff is the smallest in town with more than twice as many men as women. The five women on the staff include three anchors – Joanna Pasceri, Ginger Geoffery and Kendra Eaglin. Its only full-time female reporters are Kyla Igoe and Jaclyn Asztalos.


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6 responses to "Channel 4 News Needs To Recruit More Women"

  1. So, let’s review.

    Channel 4′s anchor staff consists of Hong (F), Arena (M), Postles (M), Walker (F), Fairbanks (F), Congi (M) and Shapiro (F). That’s a 4-3 split in favor of the women. Until Congi took over Weekend Wake Up, channel 4 had a glut of female anchors and a dearth of men. The two sports reporters are both men, but big surprise, men are bigger into sports, and none of the three stations have a female sports reporter anymore. The weather staff is also 3-1 in favor of men, but I went to school for meteorology, and by the time I got to senior year, the class was 4-1 with more men than women. Most of the women changed majors after one semester– too much math. It’s a product of the field.

    Yes, the channel 4 reporting staff is starting to skew more toward men, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I also notice that even though the female staff list is relatively small, Kingston is lead reporter most of the time– as she well deserves. The male stalwarts of Newberg, Vaughters, Richert and Moretti don’t have the screen time they used to get, while Kingston and Ed Drantch stand out. Couple that with the fact that they’re pushing Segal to do more reporting work.

    It seems that the women are more eager to jump ship to another station and are far less attached to their jobs these days than men are. There’s a reason why Schwarzwaelder left after three years while Don Paul and Mike Cejka have been here since the 1980s. The days of Marie Rice and Carol Crissey-Jasen sticking around for decades at a time are over. They were part of the first generation of women reporters seeking to establish themselves. Now, with men and women on equal footing, it seems women are more willing to move on than men. Why, I don’t know, but the job is getting more stressful, and in most occupations, the number of men in a particular occupation goes up with the hazards.

    • Tina says:

      Your review is very interesting. I believe that loyalty works both ways here and it is ever apparent that Channel 4 does not adhere to any form of it whatsoever. I can’t blame any of them, especially Melissa Holmes for leaving considering how they treated her. As far as loyalty is concerned they also do not discriminate and I give you Mike Cejka as a perfect example of that. I imagine after witnessing him being pushed aside after 28 years of good work they are all trying to find a way out of there before they too are fired or demoted for absolutely no reason at all.

  2. Bill says:

    kingston and Drantch are not physically appealing, they are more suited for radio, plus they look like twins! Nalina Shapiro should have looked for office work, her mumble mouth is only getting worse

  3. John Smith says:

    Alan, you forgot to add former sports reporter/anchor Robin Adams who left to be a stay at home mom. Jerrika Duncan whothey tried to keep but left for a reporter job at CBS 3 in Philadelphia and former reporter Jodi Hovenden who was dumped 3 or 4 years ago because of budget cuts…

  4. Pergy's friend says:

    I never noticed a lack of women on 4, as much as simply a lack of depth. For example, anchors like Joe Arena working weekdays and weekends, weekend anchors covering sports, etc.

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