Anchors Aweigh: Local TV News Departures Spark Discussion

Jul 30, 2014

Former First Coast News anchor Phil Amato.
Credit First Coast News

First Coast News has one less familiar face in the newsroom.

Longtime anchor Phil Amato resigned from his position Monday. Reasons for his abrupt departure have not been released.

Scott Jones, creator of the popular TV news industry website FTV Live, says media outlets generally talk more about a news anchor when he first arrives than when he leaves.

"They'll talk all about the person all they want when they hire him," he said," but they won't discuss it much when the person departs," Jones said.

The five anchors fired earlier this year from Action News Jacksonville.
Credit Action News Jacksonville

Amato's resignation brought back into focus the mid-May layoffs of five Action News Jacksonville anchors.

Jones said there is no question that it was an unprecedented move for Cox Media, Action News' parent company. Cox Media's philosophy, according to Jones, may be the reason for these changes.

"TV ownerships have changed dramatically over the years," he said, "and it's really become much more about the dollar than it is about the news."   

Although Jones said he did not agree with how the situation was handled, he said he understands why Cox media made the change.  "Cox wants to give its viewers more 'straight news' than personalities like Mike Barz," he said. 

Jones said that two of the five positions have already been filled, one by the hire of news anchor John Bachman. Bachman worked for seven years at WSB-TV, a Cox Media-owned station.  

Cox Media owns Action News while First Coast News is owned by the Gannet Company.    

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