Smile More: A Subcultural Analysis of the Anchor/Consultant Relationship in Local Television News Operations
Bock, Mary Angela
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The problem: Few television stations in the United States remain untouched by the influence of news consultants. To become a news anchor for a local television station, a journalist is likely to receive specialized training from these consultants. The author will analyze the relationship between anchors and consultants within the framework of an occupational subculture to better understand that relationship, Procedure: The author uses qualitative research to explore the situation described; specifically, a series of structured interviews with randomly chosen American television news anchors and several representative consultants. Contents of the interviews are analyzed within an occupational subculture paradigm. Findings: As subcultural outsiders, station consultants can cause irritation and anxiety for news anchors, but the skills they teach are valued by the modern television industry. Some anchors may be willing to compromise traditional news culture values to survive in their careers, but this compromise may be offset by new perceptions of their social responsibility. Conclusion: While the skills taught by a consultant may be valued within the television news subculture, his or her role as an outsider can contribute negatively to the subculture. The hypothesis drawn from qualitative analysis is as follows: If journalistic norms constitute a strong subculture, then those who receive coaching from within the subculture will report a more positive experience than those who are coached by consultants. Recommendations: Quantitative research can now be pursued to test the preceding hypothesis.
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