Chicago TV station WBBM Channel 2’s decision to cut three of its top talent shows that the broadcast industry is suffering from the same woes as its print brethren. In a market like Chicago, cutting out the salaries of talent like Diann Burns (who’s contract was reportedly in the seven figures), long-time anchor/reporter Mary Ann Childers and sports anchor Mark Malone can result in a hefty chunk of change that is basically unheard of in the print industry.
But you have to wonder … is the news anchor still needed in this ever-changing media world? Anchors are traditionally the highest-paid staff members in TV stations, commanding salaries that are well above the rank and file and, quite possibly, way out of line with the industry. And — with few exceptions — they rarely leave the comfort of the studio, where they read the day’s events off of TelePrompTers. Granted, it does take some talent deliver the news by this method, but in a world where specialized beats are no longer acceptable, can the news anchor still survive?
Here’s a thought: Eliminate the anchor. How about a evening newscast comprised of the reporters conducting the full story from intro to ending, with an electronic “bridge” to segue from one story to the next. In addition to stations saving some cash, it could bring some creativity into how news stories are presented. Maybe invite some “alternative” storytelling into broadcast.
Would viewers buy it? I’d say it would be at least worth a try.