By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Way out of bounds in New Haven

The New Haven Register does not enjoy a stellar reputation. In my experience, though, it gets something of a bad rap. It’s thin but reasonably solid. There are several top-notch reporters on staff.

That said, this is a disgrace: an online poll headlined “Who’s the hottest local female television personality?”, complete with photos available for purchase. A database search reveals that it did not appear in the print edition.

The Laurel, a Connecticut media blog, rightly calls it “a new low.” (I should note that I found out about it through the Valley Independent Sentinel’s Twitter feed, and that the Valley site is part of the New Haven Independent, the Register’s main local rival.)

One online commenter wrote, “Try this poll Whos’ Going To Hell and How Hot Will It Be? These women that you chose should be insulted.”

Many of us remember when Howie Carr would engage in such degrading stunts on his radio show. The Huffington Post trolls for traffic with such fare even today.  But the Register is a major metropolitan newspaper — the paper of record in Greater New Haven. The journalists there must be mortified. I suspect we have not heard the end of this.

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  1. John Mecklin


    I’ve liked most everything you’ve written for years, but this piece seems a tad overwrought. The New Haven Register has what, 90,000 circ? That’s major, in a country of 300 million people? And the Journal Register Company has seldom been confused with a anything like a major, quality news organization. Everyone I ever knew in New Haven who was interested in a real newspaper read the Globe, Courant or Times. The Register was a joke even before the recession made it a laughingstock.

    Many TV news operations do — absolutely obviously — pick their female anchors based on their looks (or “hotness,” if you will). Perhaps a poll isn’t the most journalistically serious way to treat that reality. So I’ll give you this much: A relatively small paper never much known for quality did a tabloid thing on the Web. That’s worth this level of outrage and effort? Methinks not.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @John: If you taught young women who want jobs in journalism, including television, you might think differently.

  2. Not surprisingly, a new study finds that male viewers are so distracted by attractive anchors that the news itself goes in one ear and out the other.

    See the latest edition of Miller-McCune:

    Gets you to thinkin’ about whether TV news is actually in the information business at all.

  3. Michael Pahre

    The New Haven Register link has the text: “But it’s also spawned a considerable number of comments on the changing, um, face of news and weather on television.”

    Hmmmm… didn’t I hear some broadcaster a couple of weeks ago, sitting next to you on camera, talking about the, um, face of weather on television locally? Some comment about the physical appearance of a certain, new NECN weather forecaster?


  4. I clicked the link and got a “Page Not Found” message on the Register’s website. Methinks they’ve already gotten a well-deserved smackdown, and responded by ditching the poll.

    Either that, or they’re getting so many hits the webpage has crashed.

  5. John Mecklin

    @Dan: I have taught journalism at the college level (though not in the broadcast track). Perhaps you misunderstand me, though. I’m not saying the poll was a good journalistic (or even business/traffic) thing to do; it was a stupid/insensitive endeavor for all sorts of reasons. I just think you’re good at the journo-criticism game and should fry bigger fish than a lame local daily running a lame Web poll.

  6. Mike Benedict

    Without telling you for whom I voted, I will note that Sarah French is a former Miss Missouri, something that she touts on her website (

    And in her on set (!) outfits, Teresa Labarbera looks like she’s going to suffocate on her own chest.

    (Also, they misspelled Rachel Lutzker’s name. Ouch!)

    So while it may be in poor taste to ask the question, is it lessened if the individuals themselves play up that same angle? (Similarly, can we call Scott Brown a mimbo because he posed naked for Cosmo?)

    Btw, none of them holds a candle to Bianca de la Garza.

  7. Christian Avard

    @ John I don’t care what the publication size is. Sexism in any paper of record is not OK, nor should it be tolerated.

  8. Mike Rice

    Sex sells – imagine that. The attractiveness of a newscaster, in most cases, compliments their broadcast abilities but every now and then I witness one who appears to be a wayward runway model of such high maintenance I’m left wondering if they partake in filial cannibalism.

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