For young women looking to break into journalism—especially in broadcasting—there’s always this cautionary tale: If you don’t work hard enough to prove yourself, you may end up being hired on looks alone. And, well, that can never be good for anyone, can it? It happens in the world of broadcast journalism, so the story goes, and the women hired as pretty talking heads tend to stand out as such.
I always went with the head-shake/shoulder-shrug/eye-roll approach in response to this. With such prominent women in the news who are both beautiful and sharply intelligent in the way they report the news, like the Diane Sawyers and Katie Courics of the world (or, to put it locally, the Monica Malpasses and Nydia Hans), I assumed the phenom’s bark was worse than its bite.
Then there was Alycia Lane.
Lane, who, depending on how you look at it, ruined her own career one way or another—you’ve memorized the details by now. Her scandal—bad news, followed by worse news, followed by even worse news—blew up in dramatic fashion, just in time to tear down any confidence the younger version of myself had built up about how things really worked in the media world.
And now, more than three years later, she’s still giving the rest of us a bad name. I don’t think I need to remind you that on Monday, more news of yet another Alycia Lane/Larry Mendte back-and-forth-saga chapter surfaced, complete with all the salacious details you could hope for in a poorly plotted smut novel. I realize, after reading too many angry comments to count on Larry Mendte’s recent Philly Mag piece, that there are enough people who dislike him, but I’d venture a guess that even more people dislike her—and probably have a better reason to do so. I mean, did anyone buy that those infamously disseminated bikini photos were really an accident or “innocent,” way back when? Did anyone raise an eyebrow in surprise when the news about Lane allegedly assaulting the NYPD officer surfaced?
I’m certain that Lane wasn’t the first bright-eyed, shiny-haired, perfectly built female reporter to let her fame and ego get the best of her, and I’m certain she won’t be the last. But her misadventures continue to bring us—at least in my eyes, as a young female journalist—steps back.
Maybe it was because I was young, green, just starting out when the Lane scandal really broke, but whenever news of Alycia Lane surfaces, I think back, and I see that in some ways, my days in journalism can be divided: pre-Alycia and post-Alycia. But I don’t resent her for it as much as, in a strange way, appreciate her. In her self-destruction, we all saw how ugly it can become for a woman who—perhaps from the get-go or perhaps from whenever something went terribly awry—let her good looks and the power that came with them get the best of her in a world where, since everyone wants to help you along that road, it can be all too easy to do.
Luckily, there are still those Monica Malpasses, Katie Courics and Nydia Hans to set the record straight for the rest of us.