A news anchor wore jeans on television.
Doesn’t seem to be much in that for a news story, right? Person wears denim, does job, goes home.
However it’s made waves on social media because the anchor in question – Jana Shortal – has been forced to defend herself in an emotional Facebook post after a newspaper columnist denounced the jeans as “inappropriate”, “unseemly” and “downright jarring”.
Shortal, who anchors Breaking the News on the Kare 11 network in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was reporting the murder of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling – an 11-year-old boy who went missing almost 27 years ago. The story made headlines again this week as, as part of a plea deal, his murderer revealed the tragic details of Jacob’s last moments.
But rather than focus on the horrendous events Shortal was reporting on, Star Tribune columnist ‘CJ’ took the opportunity to criticise how the anchor was dressed, claiming her “skintight pants” were disrespectful.
“She looked great from the waist up in a polka-dot shirt and cool blazer, but the skinny jeans did not work,” the article read. “I was among a number of media types who found them inappropriate and, given the gravity of the day’s subject matter, downright jarring.”
CJ goes on to accuse Shortal of caring about “being hip” (because this newfangled denim invention is cutting edge, daddio), resulting in coming off as “unseemly, perhaps disrespectful”, and even implies that Jacob’s family would be upset to see the item, writing: “My thoughts are also with the Wetterling family.
“While I cannot imagine they’ll want to read or watch every media take about the horror they have been living, I would think that hipness wouldn’t be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history.
“Edginess is the mandate of Breaking the News, but there is a line.”
The columnist couldn't resist a quick dig on Twitter either:
The piece, which appeared under the headline “Jana Shortal flubbed fashion statement during Wetterling report”, has since been removed from the newspaper’s website, though still shows up as a link in Google searches.
Just last June, Shortal wrote in the very same paper on the subject of dress code and how she wasn’t adhering to the “lady uniform”, saying she was pleased to have a work environment that allowed her to dress comfortably rather than feel she had to wear heels and do her hair a certain way to be deemed an acceptable woman.
And her Facebook response to CJ, which you can read in full below, has struck such a chord that at time of writing, it had 24,000 reactions and been shared more than 3,500 times.
Opening with a reference to leaving her porch light on all night, something which thousands in the area did in Jacob’s memory, Shortal describes the columnist as a “bully with a keyboard”, writing: “I went on the air. I did my best.
“I gave that newscast every single shred of hope and love I had for Jacob. For his family. And for every single one of you who was hurting. I left everything I had on that newsroom floor. And today. You took that away. You made it about my pants.”
She adds: “You suggest this: ‘I would think that hipness wouldn't be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history.’ You are at least correct on that.
“It wasn't. I wore my clothes. The clothes it took me a very long time to feel comfortable in no thanks to the bullies like you who tried to shame me out of them.”
Images: Kare 11