July 30, 2008

Edie Huggins, One of the First: NOT the First

What do you do when the urban radio and music scene is kind of dead? When the celebs aren't acting a fool, you dig for other stuff and you start thinking... wait a minute that's not true. Black America Web is reporting that TV reporter Edie Huggins was the first African American woman to report the news...huh... really? I did some internet diggin'.

Edie Huggins died yesterday at age 72. Here's WCAU TV's tribute to "Miss Edie". She was a reporter and anchor for over 40 years in Philadelphia. She used her position to make a positive contribution to the community. ...but I started thinking... what about Trudy Haynes at KYW TV?

Here's Trudy interviewing a tired Queen Latifah

What did I find? Trudy Haynes became the first black in the United States to broadcast the weather on television, when she was hired by WXYZ-TV in 1963, the ABC affiliate in Detroit. Two years later, she became the first black American to report the news on a television station: KYW-TV. Edie Huggins, was a nurse living in New York City, who became an actress on the soap opera "The Doctors" in 1965. She was hired to be a reporter and anchor at WCAU-TV in 1966.

From an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer today: During an interview two years ago, when the city declared "Edie Huggins Day" to celebrate her 40th year with the station, the reporter, known for her humility and disarming candor, said she was hired despite an embarrassing lack of on-air experience. The reason, she said, was not so much that she had wowed the station manager, but that WCAU was competing against the NBC affiliate (at the time KYW was an NBC affiliate and WCAU was a CBS affiliate), which had just hired its first black woman reporter, Trudy Haynes.

What's the point? Edie Huggins was one of the first African Americans to report the news. Of course it sounds better to write, "she was the first" -- Wouldn't that make you want to read the story? Why did Black America Web write a, if not sensational, clearly inaccurate headline? Besides, in her own words, Edie Huggins wanted to be remembered as "Someone Who Cared."

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