By Paul M. Banks
Everyone knows “sex sells” and the “news business is actually show business,” but there are still instances when a network overwhelmingly panders to the frat house demographic. Like hiring a bikini model to be a journalist, as the Big Ten Network just did with Melanie Collins. Sure, she did have a stint at NBA TV, but I still just can’t take her seriously as a college football reporter.
For the same reasons, I never took former Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan seriously as an anchor for Fox Sports West. You can call me sexist, narrow-minded, chauvinistic, socially backwards etc. for what I believe, but I don’t care.
If a woman rises to fame and her position by holding a job which is essentially little more showing T&A and being an inspiration to male self-gratification, how seriously can you view her authority to inform the general public?
When a political leader comes to power through illegal or criminal means, how legitimate do you take the individual’s ruling capabilities?
It’s not that I think Collins or Dergan are/were awful at their jobs, I just don’t think they are/were very good. I think Erin Andrews is ok at her job, but nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. I think EA is a very attractive woman, but again, nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. So much so that the practice of “hottie tokenism” in sports media has become synonymous with her. I don’t think she consciously sought that title, but she certainly doesn’t do anything to shy away from it either.
I probably watch more Big Ten Network that any human being reasonably should. It’s unhealthy, I admit it. I can recite, line for line, all their annoying programming promos- they do run the exact same spots during EVERY commercial break. But I just can’t, and never will, take Melanie Collins seriously. Because I know there are hundreds, maybe thousands of female and male applicants that could/should easily taken her place.
It may be unfair to compare Collins to fellow network denizen Charissa Thompson, because Thompson is a much more accomplished journalist with better credentials. And you won’t find raunchy pictures of her kissing another girl online, like you would in Collins’ case. But Thompson, like Collins is so attractive that they are distracting. There’s eye candy all around the Big Ten Network talent pool, but these two reporters just jump out at you because they distract you from the content. If you held a poll between who was “hotter,” Collins or Thompson, it’s a toss-up. Now BTN’s hottie tokenism has one-upped that of every other network.
Both of them, whether they want to be or not, have become the story instead of reporting it. And that’s a very bad personnel decision on the Big Ten Network’s part, because now people are talking about the rail-thin blonde delivering the information, instead of the information. Or maybe it’s not a bad decision, as it gets people talking about the network. They did get me.
But I’d still probably watch that network, even if something as visually disgusting as Charlie Weiss hosted every show. Ultimately though, it’s about timing and development. I can take reporters like Jill Arrington and Jillian Barberie seriously because they did the racy photo spread in a raunchy lad-mag AFTER they had already established themselves, not BEFORE.