Ann Curry’s forced exit from NBC’s “Today” show stings. She was the first Asian American in the anchor seat at a major news network since Connie Chung. Here is the AP story about her final episode Thursday.
Yes, I’m smarting over the scraps of news lite. “Today” is the Maroon 5 of news. It was my preferred combination of celebrities, cooking and concerts — with just a touch of Afghanistan — to watch while jogging on the treadmill. The quality of the shows is beside the point. The morning shows are cash cows for the major broadcast networks.
We won’t know for another 20 years the number of young Asian American journalists Curry inspired. It will be impossible to know the ones who won’t get to see Curry and choose to pursue fashion-TV hosting like Jeannie Mai.
The Asian American Journalists Association called on NBC to keep diversity a priority after Curry’s departure.
NBC has not announced Curry’s permanent replacement. I hope it’s another Asian American. Some reports say Hoda Kotb is a candidate. Representation matters, not just to me. It matters to the future of media. Right now, HGTV is doing a better job at diversity than the major networks.
White babies now account for under half of births in the U.S. Those toddlers will simply tune out of the networks and tune in to Youtube to find news that represents them. The majority of them will have watched a video on a smartphone by the time they are three years old.
Connie Chung’s time as the first Asian American anchor is now 30 years in our rearview mirror, but she remains our Asian American mascot for journalism. I heard, “Oh you want to be Connie Chung” all the time when I was starting out as a reporter, from my parents, relatives and their friends.
I met Connie Chung at an Asian American Journalists Association conference in 2010, and that woman looks flawless. All the journalists in the room (myself included) — cool as cucumbers around politicians, athletes and other celebrities — were completely gaga.
I want lots of role models, not one.
I’ve got a few new ones that I’m hoping the networks pick up: Hari Sreenivasan at PBS NewsHour (a University of Puget Sound graduate) and Richard Lui at MSNBC. And here at home, I’ll be tuning in to Lori Matsukawa and Robert Mak at KING5.
Update 10:45 a.m.
The “Today” show has named Savannah Guthrie as co-anchor to replace Curry, according to the show’s blog.