Justin Farmer and I couldn’t hook up by phone so he sent me a brief reaction note to getting the 5 p.m. co-anchor gig starting January 4, 2010 on WSB-TV. He takes over for John Pruitt (left), who will continue at 6 and 11 p.m. Farmer is the obvious heir apparent for Pruitt once Pruitt chooses to retire, probably next year when his contract is up (Monica Pearson, too, is likely to leave when her contract ends in three years). Here’s Farmer’s note to me he wrote on Thanksgiving:
I hope you are set for a good holiday. I have eight people en route, so I’ll be brief.
Naturally, I am thrilled. This is my home. My colleagues are outstanding and I look forward to getting started with Jovita Moore and David Chandley.
Regarding John Pruitt. Working side-by-side with him at the convention and on a daily basis has been among the highlights of my career. He is a gentleman. I value his support immensely.
You asked what do I bring. 18 years of broadcasting experience from Albany, GA, to CNN Sports, to news anchoring in major markets like Denver, Dallas and now Atlanta. I have covered presidential elections, an inauguration and have also reported internationally.
You asked about my dad. I am very proud of him professionally and personally. He is proud to see me here.
Ron Zwerin, a friend of Justin’s, didn’t appreciate some of the negative comments about Justin in the original blog entry but couldn’t post from his work email so here are his comments:
I am writing to you directly because your website would not let me post a comment in the public forum section. I was posting from my work computer – with a valid email address and URL. (Strange for sure!) I found many of the comments senseless, baseless and without merit.
I have known Justin for a very long time. In fact, I worked with him in Denver. He is a true pro. He is committed, focused and dedicated to honing his craft and telling compelling stories. Anyone who calls him arrogant has never spent any real time with him – let alone went to high school with him. (see comment section)
WSB did NOT hire Justin because his Dad was the main anchor at the station a generation earlier. That argument has zero merit. Using that logic; the Colts and the Giants drafted and start Peyton and Eli Manning because their father Archie played for the Saints a generation earlier.
At the end of the day, WSB made a strategic decision to put Justin in the big chair for the next 20-years because research told them that was the right move. This is big-time TV. Big time executives make lucid decisions based upon facts, Q-ratings, and quantifiable research. If Justin didn’t do well in the key ratings periods as well as in research there is NO WAY he gets the job. Rule #1 in journalism: Follow the money! If WSB didn’t believe Justin would help them make money, they would move forward with another anchor.
Lastly, to suggest that Justin lacks polish, strong writing skills and can’t tell a compelling story missed his recent series from Brazil – http://www.wsbtv.com/news/21638450/detail.html – He did an excellent job reporting on Brazil’s energy independence. WSB made the right choice and the viewer is the true winner.
All the best, Ron Zwerin