TV Anchors Pushing The News -- And Levers?

"You may notice some awkward cranking and pumping beneath the anchor desk." No, this is not a David Letterman story (Ouch!).

It's a description from a Washington Post piece on what could happen if TV news anchors do their own "prompter" work.

Washington D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG wants its news anchors to do electronic scrolling of their own news stories -- stories they "read" electronically when looking directly into the camera. Traditionally, this is done by a technician who manually follows the reading pace of a TV news anchor.

WTTG wants to save money and have the technicians do other work. That means the anchors will be controlling the flow of news copy themselves, through a series of hand levers and foot pedals. Thus, the possibly of some "awkward cranking and pumping."

This has some newsroom employees believing the cost savings in newsrooms has gone too far -- coming at the expense of such basic journalist-like activities as fact-checking and being fully attentive during on-air interviews.



Mind you, in really small TV markets, many news anchors already do some of this. That's not all. In some markets, field reporters also do their own camera work -- helped with a tripod.

What's next?

Much has been made of news organizations needing to adjust to the new digital world. We know many print-based news companies are considering the pay-per-digital-story approach for their customers. Maybe TV stations are considering the same.

Some of this may seem trivial. With all the efforts to strip away some of the extra TV news veneer, why stop with prompters? Perhaps we should eliminate TV anchors altogether.

Cable news channel Current TV is among those stations that began eliminating high-priced TV anchor talent when the economy turned bad last year.

Perhaps we should be a bit more honest with viewers, or at least refer to most of what they see more accurately. For instance, in other parts of the world, a traditional TV "anchor" is called a "news reader."

Internet blogging has already affected traditional TV journalism, with an abundance of strong opinions now on-air. That's just an honest attempt to reveal people/anchors/journalists with strong views.

Pushing out more news and opinion these days will come from much more than pushing a prompter.

2 comments about "TV Anchors Pushing The News -- And Levers?".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., October 15, 2009 at 5:36 p.m.

    People want more these days than just pretty talking heads - and we all knew deep down that those hairdos and pretty teeth really had very little to do with the story or it's origins. New media people expect knowledge and subject matter excellence from their "on air" talent - they don't have to be pretty if they are passionate (and you can chat with them, tweet with them, email them, skype them). Niche content webcasting, because of global reach, doesn't have to find a huge audience in a specific market - it just has to find a few people in EVERY market. And it can. Stay tuned - film at 11.

  2. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, October 15, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

    I still like pretty talking heads, it makes bad news easier to bear. Also, I become so distracted by the fidgeting of news anchors who have become one-person news crews that I find myself not paying attention to what they're reporting on.

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