The Importance of Image

“Posted by Lauren Turner”

Over the past two decades, society’s idea of what is newsworthy has gone from informative to entertaining.  We only watch (or read) if it’s scandalous or pertains to the lives of the celebrities currently in the spotlight.  And now, the image of anonymity associated with the person giving the news has completely gone out of the window.  It used to be that all we knew about the man behind the desk was his name, but now we know everything.  From their sexual orientation and their weight, to their favorite restaurant and they way they dress their children, newscasters have almost become one with celebrities.


Photo by mroach. Creative Commons License
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A perfect example of this can be seen in CNN’s, Anderson Cooper.    He is always dressed in the nicest shirt and jackets and his hair is always perfectly coiffed.  Outside of the newsroom, his sexual orientation has given way to many articles, blogs, and so forth.

One article that I found on Gawker really proved my point when talking about what we as a society deem as important.  The article is titled, “Anderson Cooper is a Giant Homosexual and Everyone Knows It.”  I was struck by the language of this title in relation to one of CNN’s esteemed talk show hosts.  It almost seems that what he does outside the office is more important than what he talks about on the screen.  I understand that we are very visual society, but I don’t think that they way newscasters live should hardly be any of our business.

We care so much about what we see, that I wonder if what is actually being said is even heard.  The news used to be merely what was happening, why and where.  No opinions to cloud our judgement.  Now I feel that what we see on the screen, changes what we hear.  If we can relate to who we see, then we are more likely to believe what they say.  I understand that this done by the television stations to create a relationship with the audience , but I’m not sure if this is right.

Do you think that because image has become so important, the actual content of the news is ever lost?  If so, how do you think we, as future journalists, should go about solving this problem?


6 responses to “The Importance of Image

  1. I think that lots of people take information at face-value and not with a grain of salt. I think that as journalists, we need to present the information in the most truthful way possible and give the public all of things that they need to make the best decision that they can.

    • I agree with you. I just think that sometimes the focus isn’t always on the importance of getting the information across, but on how it will be viewed. I have to keep reminding myself that this happens because of the way society works. Image is everything.

  2. I agree with you. I think the image problem also deals with political preference too as well as sexual orientation. I know if an anchor is a democrat my grandma always makes comments about how we can’t believe what they say. The public assumes now that all the information they receive is biased in some way and I think its our job as future journalists to remain neutral in the presentation of the news.

    • I have a family friend who grew up in the 50s who makes similar remarks. He always says that when he was growing up, the newscaster was a white male dressed in the same shirt and tie everyday and that was all he knew about him. He never knew if he was married or had kids or anything about his outside life. I didn’t think about how political preference could play a role in the audience accepting the information. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I agree, remaining neutral when presenting news is extremely important. Is there a way for newscasters to keep their political preference and sexual orientation a secret from viewers, though? I think Lauren’s right that image has, in some ways, become more important than the actual message, which is unfortunate. I know I’ve watched the news in my dorm room before, and my roommates will come in and be like, “What is she [newscaster] wearing?” instead of listening to the news she’s telling us. So, here’s the solution: Everyone wear the same thing and then people will listen? Probably not.

  4. Every newscaster could be a blurred out figure so no one knew who they really were. This isn’t really possible because I don’t think people will believe what they hear if they can’t associate it with a face. For all they know it could be a murderer behind the blur. I can see how building a relationship between the audience and the newscaster creates loyalty to the show. A new-mother may be more likely to watch the channel where a new-mother is the newscaster. But because we are such a materialistic society, we make comments on their outfits and hairstyles more than we comment on what they are saying. You pose some good questions that I wish there were answers for. Thanks for the post!

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