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.
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.