Is there a journalist dress code, or does anything go?
Jean Lin explores what happens when Taiwanese on-screen journalists stop concerning themselves with professional decorum
Monday, January 2, 2006
By Jean Lin
Some reporters bustle around news conferences in suits, others in heavy makeup, flamboyant attire and heels, and still others appear laid-back in jeans and T-shirts. This makes you wonder whether a dress code for reporters and journalists exists at all.
TV reporters, who appear on screen, tend to be the dressier of the media bunch, although some have swapped mono-colored suits for flashier attire and accessories.
A TV reporter and news anchorwoman surnamed Chen said that her station's regulations stipulate that reporters are not allowed to wear jeans.
Chen said that for women, sandals are also not allowed, nor are shoes that expose the wearer's toes. Sneakers should also be avoided, Chen added.
"These are the regulations of my TV station, but I feel that most reporters abide by the dress code," Chen said. "Most print journalists dress pretty neatly too, even though they don't have to be on screen."
However, other TV stations have no requirements at all.
Yang, a society and crime TV reporter, said that his station had no dress code and that he wore jeans most of the time in order to feel comfortable on his beat.
As for print journalists, who don't have to face the TV cameras, many dress comfortably in jeans and some even in T-shirts.
"I think that wearing jeans is good in a way, since you can mingle with the crowd," said a print journalist surnamed Chou.
However, Chou said that she agreed that reporters should dress somewhat formally since doing so helps a reporter to look more professional and make a good impression.
"Dressing smartly and making a good impression in the midst of dozens of haggling journalists makes the interviewee remember you and want to talk to you," Chou said.
A business news reporter said that casual attire was acceptable to him provided it was not too sloppy.
"I don't think there should be a strict dress code for reporters, as we don't necessarily have to be in suits and ties," he said. "But we should show basic respect to the organizers of the event or conference."
Lu Shih-hsiang, chief executive of the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence also expressed his opinion on reporter attire.
"The weather is much warmer in Taiwan so it is more difficult for reporters to wear full suits," Lu said. "However, at the very least, they should dress as neatly as possible."
Lu said that dressing neatly was a matter of respect and basic good manners.
Photographers are exempt from the dress code and can wear jeans because they need to lug around heavy equipment, Lu said.
However, reporters should not be seen in T-shirts regardless of the weather, Lu added.
"Reporters who are at government events or banks need to wear shirts and nice pants. But entertainment and sports reporters can dress more casually," Lu said.
"In the US though, you see that sportscasters and reporters still dress in suits," Lu added.
Lu said that he would urge his male reporter employees to wear ties and for women to wear nothing revealing.
A Newsweek article recently said that White House correspondents learned to wear comfortable shoes in order to be ready to chase after a fast-breaking story.
However, when trailing US President George W. Bush to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to pay respects to the body of Pope John Paul II, Washington reporters were instructed to dress formally.
"There are different dress codes for different time and places, but some reporters don't make the distinction correctly," a former journalist surnamed Sung said.
Date Posted: 1/2/2006