A few weeks ago I was watching the local news--can't remember the station nor the particular story but it was compelling enough that the anchors did something unusual--at least unusual in 21st Century TV news--they actually spoke to one another. WAIT, I mean they went beyond innocuous insincere chit-chat--they conversed! It was telling because in today's news template an actual conversation is tantamount to a really revolutionary idea.
I'm making a big deal about this because when's the last time you saw a TV anchor offer up a few questions back to the reporter doing a live shot? And I'm not talking your garden-variety verbal who-what-where; more to the point concise, specific actual dialogue--remember that age-old relic? It's become a commodity, a rare glimpse of human interaction as opposed to the banal back-and-forth between anchor and reporter.
Matter of fact, when's the last time an anchor had a legitimate conversation between his or her partner on a subject matter? You don't see a lot of it--my feeling is that, A. the consultants don't like it and B. It's embarrassing but in today's younger, newbie environment the anchors simply don't know how to talk to one another and even if they tried it would come off looking foolish and contrived. Imagine that: you have a big news story or some off-the-radar material-- (like the kid with the replica AK-47 who was shot dead by the Santa Rosa cops who thought it was real). In my mind if I were a viewer watching a story like that, the idea of anchors simply discussing the sheer tragic nature of that story would bring out an utter human emotion. Keep in mind that I'm not talking about a long, drawn-out back and forth, merely a few moments of reflection; of actual verbal content and not a phony, "Thanks Bob for that report, giggle, giggle."
The late Pete Wilson, (KRON/KGO-TV), was a master at this formula. Wilson was engaging and focused on certain stories; matter of fact, at times he almost overdid it, but it wasn't phony nor disingenuous--Wilson was as passionate a news reader as there was and it was that element, that personal touch that resonated with viewers. Wilson would have eaten up the tragic Santa Rosa cop-kid tragedy. Most of today's anchors would have simply read the notes and moved on. Ad-libbing is a virtue today. Relevant conversation is a commodity. The times they are a changin'.
*Follow me on Twitter