In TV News These Days, It's The Banter That Gets The Gold
Rebecca Dana of the New York Observer this week focuses on what is so readily apparent to anyone who follows trends in television news: banter is big. Expert banter skills helped Katie Couric land the anchor job at CBS News, and her successor, Meredith Vieira, was chosen in no small part because of her ability to carry on lightweight, unscripted conversation on live TV. With more and more news and newsy (think morning TV) shows requiring of their hosts a certain ability to chat offhandedly with their on-air colleagues, great value has been placed on the skill which, let's face it, cannot be taught. These days, so-called chatter is what sometimes leads to higher Nielsen numbers, industry vets believe. Says the Observer's Dana, "It is a highly valued and often overlooked skill in television news. Anyone can read a leaden headline. Precious few can alchemize that headline into non-news gold. 'These shows are gestalt in excess,' said Steve Friedman, the executive in charge of CBS’s ‘Early Show,’ which he helped create, and a two-time former executive producer of NBC’s ‘Today.’ 'People who say they remember the good old days of ‘All news, all the time’ don’t remember what was actually done.'"