Lynn Sherr on Leaving ABC: “It’s a Very Different Audience, with Very Different Demands”

By Chris Ariens 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Sarah Palin may say she’s a feminist, but ABC veteran Lynn Sherr, a feminist since John McCain’s moose-hunting running mate was in kindergarten, is dubious.

“As someone who spent years breaking down doors for women, I think a piece of feminism has to do with looking out for other women,” says Sherr, 66. “What, exactly, has she done legislatively for other women? What paths has she forged?

“She’s the person for whom all this was done; the beneficiary of all the good works of the women’s movement. Yet she seems to have turned it on its head. She doesn’t seem to care about bringing along other women with her.”

Sherr left ABC recently as a full-timer after 31 years at the network, 22 of them with “20/20.” She’ll do special projects for the show and will continue to have an office.

Among her many outside ventures is hosting a live SIRIUS special at 6 tonight on — you peaked! — “The New Feminism.”

Naturally, Sherr scoffs at the notion of a “new” feminism. “What’s wrong with the old feminism?”

Palin’s well-rehearsed spontaneous winks during last week’s vice presidential debate, for example, didn’t score any points with Sherr. “I’m just as offended by a man doing it. It feels contrived. I just want someone to be a straight shooter with me.”

Sherr is the Annie Oakley of network correspondents. She left ABC “because the business has changed. The show has changed. I’ve changed. The decision was completely mutual.”

In the old days, ’20/20′ “was a small family of correspondents. People knew who we were,” she says. “We were able to do long, wonderful, rambling emotional pieces.”

Now, it’s all about speed, speed and more speed. Attention spans are measured in nanoseconds.

“There’s no more time to think,” Sherr says. “Everything is 24/7. The pressure is to be on top of the news. You have to blog, do podcasts, get raw video online right away. It’s a very different audience, with very different demands.”

A radio and/or cable show are on Sherr’s wish list. She’s mulling several ideas for her seventh book and is working on a one-woman play about her hero, Susan B. Anthony.

“She speaks to me,” Sherr says. “I want people to know about her. Many actors want to play her. [She won’t name names.] I’ll use a lot of Susan’s own words. I understand what makes an audience pay attention.”

Sherr was paying attention yesterday as she packed up her ’20/20′ office. One of her prized discoveries was a 10-inch Tinkerbell statue she received from Disney on her 25th anniversary with ABC.

The Karmic significance was not lost on Sherr.

“It’s time for me to spread my wings.”