The glass ceiling at ABC 7 Chicago has been broken some more.
Today, the station announced that three popular female anchors would be promoted to new positions: Cheryl Burton, Judy Hsu, and Tanja Babich. As veteran anchor Kathy Brock prepares for her last day on air, ABC 7 Chicago's management is working to ensure a smooth transition of talent.
Burton will be the station's first African-American female co-anchor of the 10 P.M. broadcast since Diann Burns. Until now, she was a contributing anchor (which felt more like a reporter position to me than an anchor role.) Ms. Burton deserved to sit at the anchor desk for more than a special report. Sometimes, it felt like sports and weather anchors had a greater presence at the desk. Now, she will get a well-deserved salary increase and greater clout at the station. She will continue her 5 PM and 7 PM anchor duties on ABC 7 Chicago and WCIU-TV respectively.
Judy Hsu will take over Brock's role for the 6 PM broadcast, while maintaining her role at 4 PM. She is a prominent Asian-American journalist who is respected by viewers and works tirelessly to promote issues that are prevalent to Chicago's under-served communities. Like Burton, Ms. Hsu is highly qualified and capable of maintaining the station's positive image in Chicago.
Tanja Babich will take over Hsu's spot at the 11 AM broadcast. As a self-professed "multilingual" journalist, she would be a great "contributing anchor" who can report and produce international stories.
Leveling The Playing Field
In the past, middle-aged white men dominated TV news. For every 3 "Ron Burgundys", there would only be 1 "Veronica Corningstone." Now, TV news managers are seeing the light. They understand that their on-air talent must mirror the diversity within its target demographic of viewers. Yet, there is more work to do before true equality is seen in newsrooms.
According to a September 2017 report from Poynter, women in journalism schools don't have the same dominant presence in newsrooms. From a personal perspective, I've seen that happen for my three female friends with journalism degrees; none of them have jobs in television news. One ended up becoming a government services manager, another works for public access television, and the last is a college recruiter.
My 17-year-old niece, a popular high school basketball standout, wants to major in journalism. While the competition will be fierce, I believe that she has a greater chance of achieving her dreams because of the progress that Burton, Hsu, and Babich have made.