watching the news yesterday morning of the tragic train wreck in orange county, i was struck once again by the difficulties that live newscasting technology causes our anchorpersons. gone are the simple days that their job was to write copy and read it on the air and hope that the support staff got the right graphic up behind them.
these days, the news-viewing public’s apparently insatiable appetite for live on the spot helicopter coverage has placed the studio news staff in an incredibly awkward position. instead of just reading a prepared, fact-checked script, they must ad-lib about the images and information they’re being fed, no matter how vague or incomplete. and how many words can you find to describe different views of the same scene for ten, twenty, thirty minutes on end? they are forced to suppose, surmise, draw conclusions, add sympathetic commentary, and say the same thing in (ideally) different words, over and over and over…
and there are not too many original thoughts you can have thirty minutes into live video feeds of the same thing. ‘well, here we have … the same thing we’ve had for the last half hour, we still don’t really know what we’re seeing, and everybody’s giving us different facts, but here it still is … do we have an expert on the phone? no? ok, so nothing’s changed, as far as we can tell, it might have changed, do you think it’s changed, roger?’
i used to think on-air news personalities had cool jobs. not anymore.