Why the best anchors lead as well as they read

Education Resources, Leadership, RTDNA News,

(And why RTDNA is offering a special leadership summit for them)

Anchor Leadership Summit

By Jill Geisler

When Scott Libin and I email each other, our messages often start: “Greetings to my co-anchor,” even though we‘ve never worked at the same station

It’s our reminder of a great moment at a leadership conference, as we co-led a session. A participant said we delivered together like an experienced co-anchor team.  

For us, that was the perfect compliment.


Because we know the hard work that goes into making anchoring look easy. Long before we were educators, each of us did some time behind an anchor desk. Later, we both became news directors who hired, scheduled, promoted, and coached on-air talent.

We admit it: We have a bias for high-performing anchors. But not just good readers. We love the leaders.

We know the impact leading anchors have on their newsrooms. They work in tandem with newsroom managers to develop stories and sources, coach junior staff members on their storytelling, and weigh in on ethical questions.

Anchors are often the staff grammarians, AP stylebook mavens, fact-checkers, and script doctors.

They are the face of the news organization at civic events and career days, charitable initiatives, and journalism conferences. They teach audiences about the work of their many colleagues who aren’t in the spotlight and the care they put into it.

But when anchors get an opportunity for professional development, it's usually in the form of “talent coaching” – to polish their on-camera delivery.

That’s important.

But my co-anchor Scott Libin and I have long believed anchors deserve more. That’s why, more than 25 years ago, as faculty members of the Poynter Institute, we developed Anchor Leadership seminars. Anchors from across the country and the world spent time focused on coaching, collaboration, conflict resolution, ethics, and diversity – all steeped in journalistic values.

We knew from course feedback that the best anchors are hungry for this kind of training – and their stations benefit from it.

So, when our careers led us to university positions, Scott and I volunteered to create Anchor Leadership workshops for RTDNA. They drew scores of anchors — until the pandemic shut us down.

Anchors, we’ve missed you.

And we realized something serendipitous: The RTNDA annual conference, RTDNA24, is going to be in Milwaukee. It’s not only my home turf (and in a neighboring state of Scott’s), but it’s also a city where anchors from every station have taken part in past Anchor Leadership programs. How cool is that?

So we pitched RTDNA to do this program and got a quick green light. Then we reached out to our Milwaukee anchor alums to help us as guest faculty — and they immediately volunteered.

That should tell you a good deal about how much a program like this means to those who’ve attended.

We hope you'll join them — and us — June 12 in Milwaukee for the Anchor Leadership Summit

Anchoring can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. It can be stressful, challenging, demanding — and intensely rewarding, especially for anchors who distinguish themselves as newsroom leaders.

Our goal is to help you reduce your stress and increase your success as a newsroom leader. You’ll make valuable connections, get new skills and tools, and be able to put them to use immediately.

And we’ll have fun as we learn together.

Because that’s what true co-anchors do.

Register for the Anchor Leadership Summit