Thursday, March 27, 2014
How to succeed in journalism without really trying
Former television anchor Willow Bay has just been appointed director of USC's journalism school. She was until recently a senior editor at the Huffington Post, and has hosted Good Morning America and NBA Inside Stuff as well as other shows. She started her career as a Ford model.
She also happens to be the wife of Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Co. (They are pictured above.)
Bay went to Andover, Penn, and NYU's Stern School of Business, so for all I know she has an IQ of 150.
But there are plenty of others with her academic credentials who never achieved a fraction of her success. Most of them got stuck writing about local news for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Their problem was, they just weren't good-looking enough. I'm not sure exactly how a pleasing facial physiognomy helps one craft more insightful editorials, but evidently it does.
This blog has previously discussed men who've parlayed their bodies into success in fields where their physicality should theoretically not matter.
Bay is part of an even larger tradition of women who have parlayed their looks into power and prestige.
It's highly doubtful she would ever have been hired as a television anchor had it not been for the physical attributes that helped her as a Ford model. It's also doubtful that Bob Iger would have married her if not for those same attributes. (I think I can make both those statements with great certainty.)
And once she had those things on her resume, all sorts of other doors opened for her. Including those at USC.
There are undoubtedly some people at the school -- grumpy old profs who see journalism as a sacred calling -- who are muttering similar sentiments right now.
But USC in fact made a commonsensical decision. Most heads of academic institutions are primarily glad-handers and fundraisers for their schools. And frankly, whom would you rather shake hands with, some bitter, cynical old rummy who takes his craft seriously, or a beauty like Bay?
Bay's connections will certainly not hurt. Think some money from her former employers at the networks will find its way into USC's endowment? Think any Disney money might possibly wend its way there?
Of course, nobody associated with the school will admit to any of this publicly. All of their talk will be about journalistic integrity, reporting the news in unbiased fashion, the duty of the press in a free society, and so on.
Bay herself will undoubtedly participate in this charade. Who knows, she may even teach a course or two herself. They'll probably have titles like Television Journalism in the Age of the Internet and The Role of Media as Watchdog.
But in fact the courses she is best qualified to teach aspiring journalists would be:
How to shed those pesky pounds around your tummy and thighs
How to find the best plastic surgeon
How to appear perky on TV
How to snag a rich and influential husband
And the best advice she can give those students is, "If you want to be successful, be good-looking. Very good-looking. Then everything else will just fall into place."