This News Anchor Was Shamed for Wearing Skinny Jeans on Air

"You wrote about clothes in the darkest moment of Minnesota news history."

News anchor wearing jeans
(Image credit: KARE 11)

On Tuesday, journalist Jana Shortal reported a harrowing story on Minneapolis station KARE 11. A man had admitted to abducting and killing a boy named Jacob Wetterling in 1989—a missing-person case that had rocked the state of Minnesota ever since Wetterling's disappearance. But she dared do so without wearing the so-called "traditional" newscaster uniform, and that made one local columnist so angry, she wrote about it.

According to Jezebel, C.J., a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, wrote about how Shortal "flubbed [her] fashion statement" during her serious report. (You can read a cached version of the column here.) "She looked great from the waist up in a polka-dot shirt and cool blazer, but the skinny jeans did not work," C.J. wrote. "I was among a number of media types who found them inappropriate and, given the gravity of the day's subject matter, downright jarring. […] I would think that hipness wouldn't be a priority while covering one of the biggest, saddest stories in Minnesota history."

She also reached out to Shortal directly on Twitter, asking her if she wished she had worn something differently while she was on-air. Shortal responded perfectly, saying, "I don't know what my clothing has to do with covering the tragedy of Jacob's death."

Surprisingly enough, Shortal had written an op-ed for the Star Tribune earlier this summer about how she had managed to advance her career without wearing the standard "lady uniform." Shortal's show, Breaking the News, is supposed to be an alternative take on a traditional news broadcast. "All I wanted to do was tell stories. But that didn't seem to make up for my lacking presentation as a lady," she wrote. "Maybe I can break more than the news. Maybe I can break the mold of what a woman on television is supposed to look like."

Shortal posted an emotional response to C.J. on social media. "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," she wrote. "You wrote about clothes in the darkest moment of Minnesota news history."

Posted by jana.shortal on 

But C.J. didn't back down from her comments on Twitter, even when the backlash became furious and people were calling for her to get fired.

The Star Tribune eventually took down the column and issued an apology to Shortal and her employer. "The piece was inappropriate, insensitive, and did not meet the standards of the Star Tribune," the statement reads.

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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.