Old Ladies Like Watching Erin Andrews Dance. Female Journos, Not So Much

Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina has long been a de-facto publicist for Erin Andrews. Traina regularly features Andrews in Hot Clicks, but because of their working relationship, it doesn't feel exploitative like other sites who don't deal with her personally on a regular basis. Perhaps that's why she tabbed Traina as one of her first Twitter follows and has gone through Traina and Hot Clicks to get her message out to the blog world on more than one occasion.

With that in mind, her comments in response to yet another media critic chiding her for joining the cast of Dancing with the Stars showing up on Hot Clicks wasn't a surprise at all.

First, let's reference the original article, penned by Rosie DiManno for TheStar.com in Canada. The headline is "Andrews looks more ballroom bimbo, less reporter" which, as most headlines are, is far more inflammatory than the actual story. The column does offer the following, however:

⇥I've no problem with such women exploiting the industry that had so unabashedly exploited them. But it was difficult for serious sports journalists of the female gender — who have to work twice as hard to garner half the respect afforded male colleagues — to be taken at professional value, competing for face-time with bimbos.⇥

⇥Andrews — daughter of an investigative TV reporter in Tampa — is no bimbo, though her sideline features are more popcorn than insightful. But this DWTS is colossally unwise. She's made a fool out of herself and a sham of her profession.⇥

Contrary to the headline, the story clearly indicates that the author does not consider Andrews a "bimbo" but is concerned that her appearance on DWTS, and the affiliation with Pam Anderson and Kate Gosselin, makes her look like one. The line "she's made a fool out of herself and a sham of her profession" speaks more to the consistently graying line between journalism and celebrity. Is Andrews, by working in the media, a journalist? Is she, by working exclusively on television, a celebrity? Or is it somewhere in between? DiManno is – to my reading of it – calling Andrews a fool because of the self-inflicted conflict of interest as a reporter who has now become the story. This isn't like when she became news because of newsworthy (and criminal) situations. This is an opt-in situation, and DiManno seems to be defending the virtue of journalism more than critiquing Andrews ability to do the cha-cha.

So, with that, here are Andrews' quotes on the matter, via Hot Clicks:

⇥SI.com: What are your thoughts on the Toronto Star article that ripped you pretty good?⇥

⇥Andrews: I'm just confused because I guess it's OK for an NFL player and a gold medalist to do the show and be taken seriously, but nobody else is allowed. People say, "How do you expect to be taken seriously?" Well, Evan Lysacek is taking this so seriously. The guy just won a gold medal, has tons of endorsements, celebrities around the world want to meet him. Chad Ochocinco takes this so serious. He and Cheryl Burke are in the studio seven to eight hours a day. So that's my biggest confusion with the few people who judge me and say this is the wrong thing to do. I don't know what damage I'm doing. I'm basically killing myself to not embarrass myself. I've been in the top three in scoring each week, behind an athlete and a professional dancer and singer. I'm not sure what damage I created for myself. What am I doing to be a bimbo? I don't understand what I'm doing wrong.⇥

Andrews' answer is exactly the point DiManno was trying to make. She's not an athlete, though she does have likely just as many endorsement deals as Lysacek. Andrews took the criticism as a challenge to her work ethic on the show and not the fact that the original column was speaking more to the fact that just being on the show compromises some sort of integrity that's implicit in the profession.

Traina mentions that a full interview with Andrews will run on SI.com Monday, so maybe he asked a follow-up question to get a more specific answer out of Andrews that didn't run yet.

And please don't think I agree with DiManno at all. I think it's fine that Andrews is on the show because I don’t see any media conflict of interest on her part. When she appeared with Tim Tebow as a Gator fan for an ESPN summer series about the best sports town in America…yeah, that is a bigger conflict of interest for a football reporter. But dancing? Who cares? She's a huge star. She sat on Oprah's couch. This is the next logical step for her career. Does anyone really think Andrews will be doing football games in the next 2-3 years? It seems entirely more likely she'll be the next Pat O'Brien or Kevin Frazier and leave sports to host some celebrity talk/news show anyway.

And while we're on the topic of DWTS, here's an interesting note from the New York Times, via TV by the Numbers. The dancing show has been boasting huge ratings this season, and in total numbers, they've even beating American Idol a few times this year. But, per the report, that's not what matters to advertisers at all. It's the youngsters who matter, and DWTS has far less of them than they want:

⇥[A]lthough Dancing With the Stars has actually had a couple of wins over American Idol, it basically just amounts to chest thumping in press releases. American Idol charges $642,000 for a 30 second commercial spot while Dancing With the Stars is selling 30 seconds of ad time at $209,000 per spot.⇥

⇥Why the huge disparity? Because the two shows, while now close in overall viewers, have vastly different audience profiles. These can be summed up in simple terms: “Dancing” is heavily female and older; “Idol” is heavily female and younger.⇥

⇥

⇥“Dancing” is a show with a serious tilt toward women viewers over 50 years old. Last week, for example, of those 23 million total viewers, 10 million, or about 43 percent, were women over 50. (Another 3.9 million were men over 50.)⇥

No wonder my mom keeps asking me if I know who Andrews is dating. She should totally be reading Hot Clicks.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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