More Women Advancing In Key TV News Positions

From Poynter this morning:

It was a day on the other side of the camera and audio recorder for Tanzina Vega, full of photo shoots and interviews seeking answers … from her.

Vega, the former New York Times and CNN national correspondent, had just been named host of “The Takeaway,” the decade-old weekly news show on public media that had been hosted, until last year, by John Hockenberry.

Vega’s hiring follows other promotions of women in the news program genre, including the replacement of retiring All Things Considered host Robert Siegel with Mary Louise Kelly and the naming of two new hosts, Ailsa Chang and Noel King, for NPR’s flagship daily programs. On Feb. 25, Margaret Brennan became only the second female host of CBS’s Sunday “Face The Nation” talk show in its 63-year history.

Two of the departed male hosts, CBS’s Charlie Rose and “The Takeaway’s” Hockenberry, have been embroiled in misconduct charges that have reverberated throughout the media, entertainment and political sectors.

“We can look at this as a wave,” Vega said in an interview of the women stepping up to the microphone. “Or you can look at this and say it’s about time that women who are smart and talented are getting their due.”

“Who’s in the chair matters,” Vega said of a news show’s host. “We start with who is in the chair.”

Vega said she and “The Takeaway’s” executive producer, Arwa Gunja, spoke for weeks before Vega realized the opportunity before her: To lead a nationwide show, on the issues, reaching both public radio regulars but aspiring to reach on other platforms or places an emerging, younger or more diverse audience.

The WNYC-Public Radio International co-production, which airs on 250 public radio stations nationwide, is one of several such shows in this space. Competitors include the relatively recent “1A,” produced by NPR and WAMU, and the NPR-WBUR co-production “On Point,” which is searching for a permanent host since its longtime leader, Tom Ashbrook, was fired for misconduct.

While vague on how “The Takeaway” will change — Vega doesn’t go on air until May 7 — she says “it’s important for us to do outreach to certain communities,” whether they get their news through podcasts or Facebook.

Gunja, the executive producer, puts it this way: “Tanzina is a perfect ambassador for ‘The Takeaway’s’ mission: to bring Americans from all walks of lives to the table, to hear personal stories and testimonials that enrich our understanding of the stories dominating the headlines, and to provide context and history to an increasingly chaotic and confusing world.”

Posted by Tim Morrissey