A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…Chris Jansing returns to MSNBC

But what do these words really mean?

Update: The words don’t lie. After a two year absence, Chris Jansing is back fulltime with MSNBC.

This is rare major win for news junkies who are being inundated by the unwelcome prevalence of opinion journalism across cable news. The “voice of God” anchors are few and far between and getting fewer by the day. But their ranks just increased by one.

When she was assigned to LA, I called it a net loss for MSNBC. The fact that NBC has chosen to bring her back to MSNBC, something that rarely happens on the network level – anchor dispatched to bureau returns to anchoring – underscores this point. But I’m not going to beat up the network again for what happened two years ago. Instead I’m going to praise the network for doing the right thing, the smart thing, and bringing back someone who has more than earned her stripes over the past 12 years. Paraphrasing Mr. Spock from Star Trek 2 will probably seem corny to some but it’s apropos; “Anchoring a newscast is her first best destiny. Anything else is a waste of material.”

This is the best move MSNBC has made since moving Ratigan to 4pm ET and it is a sure sign that the network is still taking dayside seriously and is committed to improving it.

It is also another sign that David Shuster is done at MSNBC.

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45 Responses to “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…Chris Jansing returns to MSNBC”

  1. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    I think you’re enthusiasm, while warranted, is a bit excessive. Chris Jansing is a fine anchor, but this is not going to budge their ratings (or reputation as dayside being a piece of crap).

  2. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    *your

    d’oh!

  3. laura l Says:

    If she was opposite Megyn, they might have at least one new viewer.

  4. motownman Says:

    Terrific news. Chris is a true professional.
    I quit watching MSNBC when she left. I will be returning now.

  5. but this is not going to budge their ratings (or reputation as dayside being a piece of crap).

    You make a good point but that’s not a given however. And it misses my point of underscoring the symbolism of bringing a nuts and bolts no nonsense journalist back after taking her away. And symbolism is important and can go a long way to changing perceptions.

    I’m not trying to minimize the hole MSNBC dayside is in and the work it still has to do. But this would be considered a step in the right direction (as opposed to all the steps in the wrong direction we’ve seen the past year). It may prove to be a blip in an otherwise downward trend, but I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Do not underestimate the significance of bringing back someone who was for all intents and purposes exiled. That is huge.

  6. joeremi Says:

    …but this is not going to budge their ratings…

    Right, because ratings are the only thing that’s important for anyone interested in the quality of cable news. Spud didn’t mention ratings. He said it’s a sign MSNBC is still commited to improving the news. As long as the damn thing is on my TV, and the quality is there, I don’t give a flip how many other people are watching.

  7. Besides, after years of relentlessly beating up the network and its dayside news operation for all its transgressions, I really need to give them props when they do something I agree with. I need to match the level of my praise to the level of my scorn, so to speak.

  8. wheresthebeef09 Says:

    LOL @ joe.

    Come on….adding Chris Jansing to MSNBC Daytime isn’t going to “miraculously” fix all of their woes (and they have a LOT, especially between 9-4pm). The “quality” of programming is not going to improve just by sticking Chris Jansing in front of the teleprompter…they have a lot more work to do to “improve the news”.

  9. I’m glad you’re having a good laugh, Beef. What are the chances that you’re another in a long line of Fox dittoheads that have no interest in anything MSNBC does that doesn’t involve becoming another right-wing propaganda machine like the one you already worship at the altar of?

    You made no effort to actually respond to the content of Spud’s post, which was that the return of Chris Jansing to Dayside is an improvement to the content. Do you disagree with that? All you did was chime in that it’s not enough to help their ratings.

  10. Oops, my mistake. You did say it doesn’t make a difference in your last reply. Why? I understand you don’t think it will help the ratings, but how can you deny the quality of Jansing’s work?

  11. The “quality” of programming is not going to improve just by sticking Chris Jansing in front of the teleprompter…

    If you think all Jansing brings to the table is sitting reading a TelePrompTer, you really haven’t been paying close attention to what she brings to a newscast where the anchors ask questions and have to be up on everything at all times.

    Her mere presence at an hour will automatically improve the quality of that hour just by how she approaches the news. She’s not a magic bullet in that she alone will save the hour by any stretch of the imagination. But having someone of that quality on the air does by itself make a noticeable difference for any regular MSNBC dayside viewer.

  12. I dont get why msnbc splits the anchors’ times up, like Chris Jansing at 10 and 3. Why not anchor two hours in a row like cnn does? And why does Contessa only get one hour? She’s better than Tamron. And give Hopkins some airtime without that creep luv guv.

  13. creep luv guv

    You’re killing me corny…

  14. cristanti Says:

    well makes no difference to me, chris jansing just like tamron, contessa, andrea, all lean to the left, msnbc will still be like joerimi loves to say the propaganda of the ” left” as he thinks FOX NEWS is for the right, only thing is joe, FOX NEWS beats msnbc and cnn combined all day, and one of the gallup polls that was taken showed that FOX is watched by democrats and independents in a higher number then gop, so if it makes you feel better to rant and rave about FOX NEWS and how the right worship at the alter, feel better, but thats a joke when you see how you all worship at the alter of msnbc and olbie, its pathetic after the crazy rants he comes up with, everyone knows msnbc is obamas network and you and others here can say they dont care about ratings well thats a joke, msnbc will never beat FOX NEWS as long as they keep covering obamas back, there is buyers remorse for this president but you would never know it if you only watched msnbc, jansing knows what msnbc is and she will follow the rest of them, their love of obama. far left propaganda news.

  15. Yeah, I think I better go ride my bike. Being the only (sorta)liberal still plugging away here, with constant reams of “Fox awesome, MSNBC bad” mindless drivel as my foil, is getting silly.

  16. icemannyr Says:

    Just because something has high ratings does not mean it’s the best thing in the world.

    If a song or CD does not make the top 40 on the billboard charts does that mean the song or album is crap?

    Just because MSNBC has low ratings does not mean they are a bad network, yes there are things they need to improve but adding Chris 10am and 3pm is one good step.

    To respond to the other comment, I would not place Tamron and Contessa in the same category as Chris.
    Chris does a much better job at breaking news and has a much cleaner read of the teleprompter compared to Tamron.

  17. starbroker Says:

    Chris is a fine anchor. Certainly more centrist than anyone else on MSNBC. It would be nice if they fired: Norah, Tamaron Hall, Contessa Brewer and a bunch of the other ilk that pollute their airwaves.

    But then again, how much good will a 50+ anchor do to attracting more people to the “key demo”? They need people like Christ but 20 years younger. Not that she doesn’t look good for her age. Just the nature of the beast.

  18. Well that’s the irony…you generally don’t get people like Chris at that age. It takes experience and that’s not something one gets by age 30. Name me a 30 year old anchor who’s got the resume Chris has? You can’t do it. To get a resume like that takes time.

    The name of the game in cable news these days is grab ‘em young from local after a few years. Many are not ready for the jump. Some fall flat on their face. Some struggle before finding a groove. But that’s what you get when you rob from the local news cradle. You rarely get one that naturally has the quality and is as fully rounded out that someone like Jansing spent decades honing.

    Not that I would call Jansing “centrist”. I have no idea which end of the idealogical spectrum her beliefs lie. But then that’s the whole point, she doesn’t tip her hand to the degree that a lot of her comrades on CNN, FNC, and MSNBC do. She asks critical questions about both sides (which supporters of each side incorrectly point to as proof of her “bias”) but she doesn’t really advocate for any position, just highlights all positions.

  19. bonnieux Says:

    It’s about time MSNBC brought Miss Jansing back. For putting her out to pasture in Calif was not a good move.
    She is one classy lady and a very smart one at that.
    MSNBC has made my day

  20. laura l Says:

    Perhaps they figured that the market for brainless 30-year-olds that read a prompter and giggle has already been cornered by Fox. Why not take things in a different direction. Real news (more or less) from people who can ad lib..

  21. joeremi Says:

    I realize I probably should know this, but what do they do when they get farmed out like that? Was she working at KNBC? I don’t get it.

  22. laura l Says:

    TV-news Siberia.

  23. I realize I probably should know this, but what do they do when they get farmed out like that?

    That’s a good question. They do go on assigments for days at a time but there seems to me to be quite a bit of down time where they’re not on the road…so what do they do then? No they don’t work for KNBC…

  24. starbroker Says:

    Well that’s the irony…you generally don’t get people like Chris at that age. It takes experience and that’s not something one gets by age 30. Name me a 30 year old anchor who’s got the resume Chris has? You can’t do it. To get a resume like that takes time.>>

    Well, since Chris spent 17 years doing local news, no not many 30 year olds wasted that much time doing that.

    When PAB came on FNC at 31 when was every bit as good as CJ then (at that age). FNC has put her out to pasture pretty much (which is a damn shame but has nothing to do with the point). I don’t recall her work for her 2 years at MSNBC before she jumped, but I doubt she magically changed overnight.

    Laurie Dhue would be another one. Like PAB..joined MSNBC at 29 and then FNC at 31.

    You can certainly grab them in their late 20′s from local news. But you shouldn’t grab them from poker shows and other things like that. That is a big mistake.

  25. I think Chris Jansing, Page Hopkins and Alex Witt are diamonds in the rough for MSNBC’s straight news reporting. They are all great non-opinionated reporters and would do great hosting their own newscasts. Unfortunately, MSNBC’s management decisions are futile, at best… which is why they took so long in putting Jansing in at 10am & 3pm, keeping Alex Witt on the weekends, where nobody can discover who the hell she is and bringing Hopkins on randomly when they can’t find another anchor. I can’t imagine that Witt and Hopkins are too happy with the way they are used… they both deserve promotions and opportunities to showcase their talent. Instead, Phil Griffin sits on his hands and does nothing about it… almost as if he just doesn’t feel like exerting any effort.

    At least their prime-time programming improved with the addition of Rachel going on after Keith, but we all know how damn long ago that was. Since then, they have added favorites of mine, like Ratigan and Schultz, but just can’t seem to progress after that. I mean, why would you still have Chris Matthews on at 2pm and 4pm? Matthews, himself, even falsely pointed out that his 2pm show gets more viewers than his others repeats. I enjoy Hardball, but i don’t need to see it that much in a 3-hour time period.

    The MSNBC management is either lazy or just doesn’t want to spend any money to improve itself. They need to put a hell of a lot more effort into decisions like this if they want to be more recognized.

  26. joeremi Says:

    Matthews, himself, even falsely pointed out that his 2pm show gets more viewers than his others repeats.

    Are you sure? He mentioned yesterday that his show gets more viewers at 7 than the live one.

  27. “Are you sure? He mentioned yesterday that his show gets more viewers at 7 than the live one.”

    I’m not sure, Joe… I may have heard it wrong. I wish there was a way to make sure. I checked MSNBC’s Hardball page with videos (and transcripts), but neither have it. I can’t imagine why he would say something like that when it’s obvious which one is better in the ratings. Then again, maybe Matthews wants to get more people to watch his live show rather than his repeats. If he would just move the live show to 7pm permanently, I think it would be more beneficial for him.

  28. While MSNBC won’t magically be able to compete with FNC simply because they’ve brought back the highly qualified and popular CJ, every move in that direction makes them a little better. That can also serve to make FNC & CNN work a little harder, too. It’s a good thing.

  29. Come on Al. I’m a big supporter of Chris and how she does news but even I wouldn’t write something like that. CNN and FNC have nothing to fear. Jansing makes MSNBC better but that alone isn’t enough to make either competitor change a thing.

    You can certainly grab them in their late 20′s from local news.

    But what are you getting at that age? You don’t know really. I’ve seen a lot of late 20 somethings and early 30 somethings come up and the vast majority tread water when they come up. They have to be coddled. Their use has to be restricted. They’re green and it shows. Sometimes the coddling pays off and they continue to grow. Sometimes they hit a point and don’t progress any further. And some crash and burn spectacularly.

    The name of the game these days is for the networks to essentially take a flier; partly on the gambit that they’ll do something but also as a hedge that some other network won’t swoop in and take them and they do something on the competition. It’s not like the old days where you do what Jansing did and hone your craft to a razor’s edge so that when you do get the call or decide to jump, you’re seasoned and experienced in a wide variety of subjects.

    While I personally like PAB and Dhue, I don’t think you can seriously compare their trajectory to Jansing’s. The situations are too dissimilar. Dhue and PAB have never done the kinds of things Jansing has done. I don’t know why the reason for that is and I’m not going to speculate. It is what it is.

    But I think you misunderstood my whole point on the 30 something issue. You took note of Jasning’s age and I will agree that it runs counter to current broadcast news trends. Name me another female out there her age or older working full time in an anchor role at a network whose last name isn’t Couric, Sawyer, Stahl, Mitchell, Woodruff, Ifill, Curry, Viera, or Van Susteren? I can’t think of any offhand. It’s a small group; almost a niche. But they all have reams of experience.

    My point was a rebuttal to your comment about targeting the key demo. Sure you can bring up younger ones but they don’t have the experience. And that impacts the quality of what goes out over the air. Maybe not in a full frontal of assualts but with the little nuances that only experience can give. Look at the above list. Those names all have one thing in common, years of experience. You can’t put a pricetag on that. Sure the key demo brings in the dollars but the experience is what makes or breaks a network’s brand. You try fronting a network with nothing but late 20s/early 30s and you tend to get a network full of inexperienced talent, capable of handling a day to day newscast but not capable of delivering the kind of interviews that can make a network’s reputation.

    And when I use the term “experience” I don’t mean someone capable of looking competent on camera. I mean someone who can do something beyond simplistic cookie cutter interviews reflective of a superficial understanding of the subjects at hand.

    Certainly there are exceptions to the overall lack of experience that the young tend to bring to a network, but they are exceptions and not the norm. And this isn’t just about female anchors. I can think of some male talent out there who this applies to as well.

  30. I should also add that I’m old school when it comes to anchors. I’m a huge believer in the “voice of God” factor. Everyone says it’s a dying breed that’s time has come and gone. But when the shit hits the fan big time, who tends to take the helm of a network’s coverage? Voice of God types.

    It’s sort of a subjective topic “What makes one a voice of God type”. My list of current talent on national US networks that qualify would be a relatively short one. I’m thinking about doing a blog post on the subject one of these days. Jansing would be on that list for sure.

  31. -Voice of God types-

    That’s a fascinating topic in the changing landscape of TV-news-world; I’s like to see your treatise on it.

    Olbermann is the tragic example of someone who treasures this ideal, and threw it away. He was a sports guy who worshipped at the altar of Murrow and Cronkite, and when given a chance to become a Newsman With A Voice, his ego and petty vendettas overwhelmed him.

    I’m sure righties will disagree, but his decision to show his politics wasn’t enough to ruin it. His original Special Comments against the Iraq War had a deserved righteousness and power to them. But – as Ben Afleck showed to devastating effect on SNL – he continued to throw The Voice Of Rage at everything, including every perceived enemy he’d ever come across. He wanted to be Walter Cronkite, but became Ted Baxter.

  32. – his ego and petty vendettas –

    I think O’Reilly came pretty close to heading down that road. I wonder if somebody finally talked to him, or if he came to his senses on his own. It seems as though he dropped a lot of the personal-stuff not-long-after the so-called ‘truce’ of maybe a year ago. Up to that point, Billo and KO seemed to be working each other up to concurrent nervous-breakdowns. Now, Limbaugh takes shots at him, and he doesn’t say a word.

  33. -FNC nothing to fear-

    CNN has nothing to fear. Like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, after being so firmly on top for so long the big-wigs at FNC must be starting to become paranoid. Eventually, without competent competition the leader will always crash and burn. Jansing alone will only do a little, but every successful transformation starts with the first successful transformer.

    Until recently, objectively the hard news at FNC really was far more “fair and balanced” than its competition. Once upon a time, Jon Scott kept his opinions off the air, for example, but now he’s hosting “Newswatch”. Call me crazy, but I think FNC is beginning to falter.

  34. And, of course, there’s Megyn from 1-3, Beck, and to a lesser-extent, Cavuto. They used to be able to say that they had ‘straight-news’ up until eight o’clock. The ‘straight’ has become the tiniest bit wobbly.

  35. I don’t think FNC has a problem in the short term, but they’re selling their future out for a prize now. They don’t do a significant amount of “fair and balanced” news. Much of it is conservative anchors saying what they want to hear, to a conservative audience that eats it up. That’ll work for awhile, but the growing number of young independents who will eventually constitute a significant portion of what’s left of the cable news audience aren’t going to stick with it. 10 years from now it will be considered “stuff my dad says”.

  36. starbroker Says:

    Name me another female out there her age or older working full time in an anchor role at a network whose last name isn’t Couric, Sawyer, Stahl, Mitchell, Woodruff, Ifill, Curry, Viera, or Van Susteren?>>

    And for the most part, none of them belong on the air at all.

    and MSNBC has plenty of older/experienced anchors on the air, but they suck in the ratings and they have continually diminished their brand because as they get older they are even more biased hacks than they were in the past.

  37. And for the most part, none of them belong on the air at all.

    End of intelligent discussion. It was fun while it lasted.

  38. You must be a delight at dinner parties, star. You just come in and say something stupid and bam, totally ruin the vibe.

  39. And for the most part, none of them belong on the air at all.

    Ohhhhhhh….bullshit. I have issues with some of the ones on the list for various reasons. Some I don’t like personally. But for the most part they’re where they are for a reason. Some connect well with their viewers. Some have cultivated reputations as honest brokers. Some are considered institutions. Some are linchpins on their network’s roster.

    and MSNBC has plenty of older/experienced anchors on the air, but they suck in the ratings and they have continually diminished their brand because as they get older they are even more biased hacks than they were in the past.

    You were doing so well in this discussion – making well reasoned arguments that you tried to back up with evidence – right up until this point, where you took a U-Turn towards sophistry. Who are you referring to exactly? Witt? Jansing? Mitchell? Nobody else would fall into that category of older AND experienced (though Witt hasn’t had the experience re-enforcing opportunities that Mitchell or Jansing have had) and I wouldn’t classify any as biased or hacks. Even O’Reilly likes Mitchell and has publicly praised her on his show. I don’t think her on air delivery is very good as a show host but I willingly acknowledge that whatever delivery problems she has are more than offset by the decades of experience she brings to the show.

    As for ratings “suckage”, you sound like the typical news programmer…blame the talent for the failure. It’s the easy copout to take. It’s much tougher for news programmers to do some REAL soul searching and realize their vision for what news should be covered and how it should be covered may be the issue. And even that oversimplifies the argument. Ratings failure can have many fathers – ill thought out publicity campaign, bad format, bad timeslot choice, no publicity campaign, misuse of talent’s strength…all can contribute to a show’s failure. But the blame always seems to land with the talent. Sometimes zeroing in on the talent is justified. But many times the talent is a convenient scapegoat for people unwilling to admit their own failings.

  40. icn2 Says:
    Not that I would call Jansing “centrist”. I have no idea which end of the idealogical spectrum her beliefs lie. But then that’s the whole point, she doesn’t tip her hand to the degree that a lot of her comrades on CNN, FNC, and MSNBC do. She asks critical questions about both sides (which supporters of each side incorrectly point to as proof of her “bias”) but she doesn’t really advocate for any position, just highlights all positions.

    This is the main reason that I am a big fan of Ms. Jansing and why I am glad she is returning to MSNBC. I expect the anchor to interview the guest, not to show bias either for or against. I do not want to be able to tell if they are conservative or liberal.

  41. scottshiv Says:

    Chris is back. I’m going to do my happy feet dance.

  42. I have been a CJ fan since the 2000 elections and glad to hear her voice of reason back in the vast wasteland of MSNBC. Can anyone tell me why Chris was “banished” to the West Coast? Her return is much easier to fathom.

    John in Arlington TX

  43. We’ve run through five months and the outstanding lady, who I thought couldn’t get any better, keeps raising her level of professionalism, grace and precison. I am convinced that the woman has no upside limit, save that she needs to be reasonably comfortable with the evolution.
    So, Enjoy the best, in news presentation, and watch her grow.
    Beautiful!

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