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The Lowdown on News Babes Page

Technology: Click here to find out who's who as the Web offers a full-color look at broadcast women in G-rated clothing.

August 27, 1996|HOWARD KURTZ | THE WASHINGTON POST

After decades of struggle for equality that has finally brought them some semblance of parity, female television journalists have been granted a truly unique form of recognition:

The News Babe Page.

The World Wide Web site features more than 300 color photos of what Playboy might call the Women of Television, complete with biographical details, favorite hobbies and, in this case, G-rated attire. Former beauty queens get a little crown symbol, while each "weather babe"--what the page calls a "luscious vixen of meteorology"--is marked with a storm cloud.

"Nice page, would appreciate more skin," one reader's message said.

Typical offering: Stephany, Gwen and Martha. Click on "Gwen" and you learn she is Gwen Castaldi of Las Vegas ("I'm really happy here and I am in love with the desert"). She's married, and her hobbies are gardening, camping, photography and cooking.

Responding to a critical posting from what he called a "feminist staffer," Jeffrey McManus, a San Francisco writer and the page's "assistant curator," said: "Sexist? Degrading? The News Babe Page? We're shocked--shocked--that anybody would think that. . . . We wanted to combine several of our favorite things: news, computers and hot chicks wearing business attire."

The page has drawn an appreciative audience. "I for one am extremely intrigued by (one might say, drooling over) the news reader for 'Good Morning America,' " one fan wrote. "Black hair, dark eyes. Is there a section for her?"

"Check out a total babe on the NBC affiliate in Denver . . . a former Miss Colorado winner," another said.

Some of the babes--er, women--are happy to play along. "I would like to be your first print-news babe," one said.

In a piece for the online magazine Salon, McManus recalled a conversation with newscaster Jill Rickett, who described her "make-over" at a Texas station:

"Next thing you know I'm bleach blond, perky, perky, perky like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and the ratings went up overnight."

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