Date Posted: October 24, 2011
Print Edition: October 19, 2011
At 72-years-old, TV news anchor and recipient of an honorary doctorate degree in technology Tony Parsons shows no signs of slowing down. Currently co-anchoring the CBC News Vancouver report with Gloria Macarenko and also the evening newscast on CHEK-TV in Victoria, Parsons is a news broadcaster well-known and well-liked throughout British Columbia. Proof of his popularity was the number of guests that showed up to UFV’s Chilliwack campus on Friday, October 14, where Parsons held a question and answer period for community members, faculty and students. The event was sponsored by the Centre for Education and Research and welcomed about 100 guests in the theatre; during the session, Parsons sat and answered the range of questions posed by attendees.
Parsons is known for having his dog under his desk while broadcasting, so a member from the audience started the afternoon by inquiring about the newscaster’s latest dog and its presence in the newsroom. From there, it didn’t take long for people to begin asking some tougher questions about his personal feelings towards situations in BC and where the world of news is headed today.
Some would assume that sitting behind a teleprompter and reading tragic story after tragic story would have a negative effect on a newscaster, but when asked if these stories affected him, Parsons replied: “No, I think you grow a hard shell after a while, and I’ve been doing this since I was 17, and my shell is pretty thick. Stories that affect me the most are the mistreatment of children and animals.” Parsons commented on the story that affected him the most, the Clifford Olsen trial. “That was a terrible time, I reported that every night, the terrible things that man did – those kinds of things do affect you, but you don’t show it on air,” he recalled.
According to a video produced by The Media Convergence Forum, newspaper circulation is down seven million over the last 25 years, and in the last five years online newspapers have gained 30 million unique readers. This year alone, TV broadcasting records have gone down an average of 10.1 per cent. Parsons said he thought that, given the numerous types of news sources now available, consumers and particularly young people “are now subject to so many opinions that they may not be able to make that decision on their own.” He added that it is still up to people to decide how much they want to be informed.
Parsons was not all business – he also offered advice to aspiring journalists, news anchors and radio broadcasters. “Find the smallest radio or TV station you can and offer to do whatever you can to get a level entry job,” he advised, “if you get in the door picking up coffee cups at the end of the day, take it, because that leads to other things. My experience is that people who are hired to do menial jobs… eventually get their chance.”
Parson’s willingness to answer questions openly was appreciated by the audience members. After the event was over, Parsons stayed to pose for pictures and shake hands with his audience members. The event will be available to view online in a few weeks for those who couldn’t attend.