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Your View: Appearance and the News

Posted: Feb 11, 2013 6:09 PM by Mengti Xu and Paige Flores
Updated: Feb 15, 2013 10:57 PM

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COLUMBIA - Criticism from the public is something that those working in the media are aware of and every reporter handles differently.

Wisconsin's WKBT morning anchor Jennifer Livingston was nationally praised last October for defending herself live on air after a viewer commented on her weight.

"I am so much more than a number on a scale," she said.

While Livingston received support for defending herself, former Louisiana meteorologist Rhonda Lee had a different experience.

After a viewer commented on the station's Facebook page about Lee's natural hair and compared her to a "cancer patient", she responded back. Not long after she did so, she was fired.

After these two instances, KOMU 8 viewer Ray Smith wanted to know what KOMU would do in a similar situation. In his email, he asked, "What stance does KOMU have over personal, negative comments directed toward employees? Is there procedure in handling these accounts?"

KOMU 8's News Director Stacey Woelfel said it's not a good idea for anchors to respond to personal comments.

"I would prefer the anchor is not engaged with people who want to make personal attacks," said Woelfel. "I just don't think there is anything professionally achieved by doing that."

Local viewer Felicity Lewis said appearance shouldn't be the main reason why an audience should tune in to a certain broadcast or its anchors.

"News anchors are people too and they should be able to reflect the society," she said.

With the growth of social media these days, Woelfel said it does help our audience reach us more easily, but it also makes our job more challenging.

"Now everybody here is responsible for six newscasts a day plus unlimited potential for posting stories around the clock online, texting or whatever it might be, so that's more pressure for everyone," Woelfel said.

So, what do you think about this issue? Do you think anchors or reporters should respond to hurtful comments? Or should they just ignore the comments at all?

If you would like to voice your opinion, feel free to comment below this story or on our Facebook page.

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