News presenter

Last updated

A news presenter also known as a newsreader, newscaster (short for "news broadcaster"), anchorman or anchorwoman, news anchor or simply an anchor is a person who presents news during a news program on the television, on the radio or on the Internet. They may also be a working journalist, assisting in the collection of news material and may, in addition, provide commentary during the program. News presenters most often work from a television studio or radio studio, but may also present the news from remote locations in the field related to a particular major news event.

Contents

History

The role of the news presenter developed over time. Classically, the presenter would read the news from news "copy" which he may or may not have helped write with a or news writer. This was often taken almost directly from wire services and then rewritten. Prior to the television era, radio-news broadcasts often mixed news with opinion and each presenter strove for a distinctive style. These presenters were referred to as commentators. The last major figure to present commentary in a news broadcast format in the United States was Paul Harvey. [1]

With the development of the 24-hour news cycle and dedicated cable news channels, the role of the anchor evolved. Anchors would still present material prepared for a news program, but they also interviewed experts about various aspects of breaking news stories, and themselves provided improvised commentary, all under the supervision of the producer, who coordinated the broadcast by communicating with the anchor through an earphone. Many anchors also write or edit news for their programs, although modern news formats often distinguish between anchor and commentator in an attempt to establish the "character" of a news anchor. The mix of "straight" news and commentary varies depending on the type of program and the skills and knowledge of the particular anchor. [2]

Etymology of "anchor"

News set for WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio. News anchors often report from sets such as this, located in or near the newsroom. WHIO-TV News Set Kettering OH USA.JPG
News set for WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio. News anchors often report from sets such as this, located in or near the newsroom.

The terms anchor and anchorman are derived from the usage common in relay racing, [3] specifically the anchor leg, [4] where the position is typically given to the fastest or most experienced competitor on a team. In 1948, "anchor man" was used in the game show "Who Said That?" to refer to John Cameron Swayze, who was a permanent panel member of the show, in what may be the first usage of this term on television. [5] The anchor term then became commonly used by 1952 to describe the most prominent member of a panel of reporters or experts. The term "anchorman" also was used to describe Walter Cronkite's role at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where he coordinated switches between news points and reporters. [3]

The widespread claim that news anchors were called "cronkiters" in Swedish [6] has been debunked by linguist Ben Zimmer. [7]

Criticisms

Brian Williams interviews Mitt Romney on July 25, 2012, during Romney's presidential campaign. Brian Williams interviews Mitt Romney, July 25, 2012.jpg
Brian Williams interviews Mitt Romney on July 25, 2012, during Romney's presidential campaign.

Anchors occupy a contestable role in news broadcasts. Some argue anchors have become sensationalized characters whose identities overshadow the news itself, [8] while others cite anchors as necessary figureheads of "wisdom and truth" [9] in the news broadcast. The role of the anchor has changed in recent years following the advent of satirical journalism and citizen journalism, both of which relocate the interpretation of truth outside traditional professional journalism, but the place anchormen and anchorwomen hold in American media remains consistent. "Just about every single major news anchor since the dawn of the medium after World War II has been aligned with show business," says Frank Rich, writer-at-large for New York Magazine, in a polemic against commoditized news reporting, "reading headlines to a camera in an appealing way is incentivized over actual reporting". [9] Brian Williams, an anchor for NBC Nightly News, evidences this lapse in credibility generated by the celebration of the role of the anchor. In early 2015, Williams apologized to his viewers for fabricating stories of his experiences on the scene of major news events, an indiscretion resulting in a loss of 700,000 viewers for NBC Nightly News. [10] David Folkenflik of NPR asserted that the scandal "corrodes trust in the anchor, in NBC and in the greater profession", [8] exhibiting the way in which the credibility of the anchor extends beyond his or her literal place behind the news desk and into the expectation of the news medium at large. CBS's long-running nighttime news broadcast 60 Minutes displays this purported superfluousness of anchors, insofar as it has no central figurehead in favor of many correspondents with similarly important roles. Up-and-coming news networks like Vice Magazine's documentary-style reporting also eschew traditional news broadcast formatting in this way, suggesting an emphasis on on-site reporting and deemphasizing the importance of the solitary anchor in the news medium. In her essay, "News as Performance", Margaret Morse posits this connection between anchor persona newsroom as an interconnected identity fusing many aspects of the newsroom dynamic:

For the anchor represents not merely the news per se, or a particular network or corporate conglomerate that owns the network, or television as an institution, or the public interest; rather, he represents the complex nexus of all of them. In this way, the network anchor position is a "symbolic representation of the institutional order as an integrated totality" (Berger and Luckmann 1967, p. 76), an institutional role on par with that of the president or of a Supreme Court justice, although the role originates in corporate practices rather than political or judicial processes. [...] [11]

Despite the anchor's construction of a commodified, aestheticized version of the news, some critics defend the role of the anchor in society, claiming that he or she functions as a necessary conduit of credibility. The news anchor's position as an omnipotent arbiter of information results from his or her place behind a typically elevated desk, wherefrom he or she interacts with reporters through a screen-within-screen spatial setup. A criticism levied against the role of anchor stems from this dynamic, insofar as anchors simply "... regurgitat[e] or reproduc[e] the report of others...", differentiating them from the productive occupations of journalists and on-site reporters. [9] However, journalism professor Elly Alboim articulates the pro-anchor position by characterizing the anchor's nightly presence as a necessary way to build familiarity and trust between the network and its viewers: "People tend to want to believe and trust in television new and start, really, from the anchor". [8] Beneficial or not, the anchor fits snugly into the "personality cult" engendered within American society that encourages celebrity that demands a hierarchy of authority, evidenced by the negligible change in ratings following implementation of new anchors in broadcast lineups. [8] The identity of a particular anchor seems to influence viewer perception less than the presence of an anchor in general.

Finally, the role of the anchor correlates with the analogous, authority- and information-bearing positions already well-established in American politics, and the benefits it confers upon the political realm elucidate the compatibility between these two systems of information. Once again, Morse outlines this relationship between the anchor and the larger context in which they operate: "[s]ince there are few other organs for inclusive and substantial discourse on social and cultural values in American life, the responsibility for interpreting the world and posing a political course of action and a social agenda falls on a very limited number of public personas, including such news personalities and the president". [11] She levies a criticism against the anchor in this case, claiming that by decreasing the number of people responsible for delivering the news, American viewers receive a bottlenecked stream of information about their surroundings. The choreography and performativity involved in the construction of the news broadcast dramatizes political processes, but in doing so, exposes its flattening of subjectivity and insistence upon itself as the final word of truth. More specifically, "the news media may do 'an important social good when using the techniques of dramaturgy to make governance more interesting to people than would be the case otherwise.' At the same time, however, 'there is an important difference between drama and democracy, with the former requiring spectators and the latter participants.'" [12] In contrast to perceptions of the news as a one-sided relationship with its viewers, some believe that the news works in conjunction with its audience to produce the most efficient picture possible of the world. Tom Brokaw, in speaking about his experiences as a news anchor for NBC, explained how news stories for the length of their duration tend to feed off viewers' demands, and that news is inherently a "populist medium", and that "[p]eople are not going to turn to television networks for a historically accurate and detailed description of what happened." [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

NBC News News division of NBCUniversal

NBC News is the news division of the American broadcast television network NBC. The division operates under NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, a division of NBCUniversal, which is, in turn, a subsidiary of Comcast. The news division's various operations report to the president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim. The NBCUniversal News Group also comprises MSNBC, the network's 24-hour general news channel, business and consumer news channels CNBC and CNBC World, the Spanish language Noticias Telemundo and United Kingdom-based Sky News.

Walter Cronkite American broadcast journalist

Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was an American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–1981). During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll. Cronkite reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including bombings in World War II; the Nuremberg trials; combat in the Vietnam War; the Dawson's Field hijackings; Watergate; the Iran Hostage Crisis; and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr., and Beatles musician John Lennon. He was also known for his extensive coverage of the U.S. space program, from Project Mercury to the Moon landings to the Space Shuttle. He was the only non-NASA recipient of an Ambassador of Exploration award. Cronkite is known for his departing catchphrase, "And that's the way it is", followed by the date of the broadcast.

Tom Brokaw American broadcast journalist and author

Thomas John Brokaw is an American retired television journalist and author. He first served as the co-anchor of The Today Show from 1976 to 1981 with Jane Pauley, then as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years (1982–2004). He was also a weekend anchor for the program from before from 1973 to 1976. He is the only person to have hosted all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press. He formerly serves as a special correspondent for NBC News and works on documentaries for other outlets.

<i>The Huntley–Brinkley Report</i>

The Huntley–Brinkley Report was an American evening news program that aired on NBC from October 29, 1956, to July 31, 1970. It was anchored by Chet Huntley in New York City, and David Brinkley in Washington, D.C. It succeeded the Camel News Caravan, anchored by John Cameron Swayze. The program ran for 15 minutes at its inception but expanded to 30 minutes on September 9, 1963, exactly a week after the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite did so. It was developed and produced initially by Reuven Frank. Frank left the program in 1962 to produce documentaries but returned to the program the following year when it expanded to 30 minutes. He was succeeded as executive producer in 1965 by Robert "Shad" Northshield and by Wallace Westfeldt in 1969.

<i>NBC Nightly News</i> Flagship daily evening television news program for NBC News

NBC Nightly News is the flagship daily evening television news program for NBC News, the news division of the NBC television network in the United States. First aired on August 3, 1970, the program is currently the second most watched network newscast in the United States, behind ABC's World News Tonight. NBC Nightly News is produced from Studio 3C at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. Select Los Angeles-based editions broadcast from The Brokaw News Center in Universal City, California, or when broadcasting from Washington, D.C., either from the NBC News bureau based at WRC-TV in the Tenleytown neighborhood, or NBC's secondary studio overlooking Capitol Hill.

<i>CBS Evening News</i> Evening news program, broadcast on CBS News

The CBS Evening News is the flagship evening television news program of CBS News, the news division of the CBS television network in the United States. The CBS Evening News is a daily evening broadcast featuring news reports, feature stories and interviews by CBS News correspondents and reporters covering events across world. The program has been broadcast since July 1, 1941 under the original title CBS Television News, eventually adopting its current title in 1963.

David Brinkley American journalist (1920–2003)

David McClure Brinkley was an American newscaster for NBC and ABC in a career lasting from 1943 to 1997.

Jane Pauley American journalist

Margaret Jane Pauley is an American broadcast journalist, television host, and author, active in news reporting since 1972. Pauley first became widely known as Barbara Walters's successor on the NBC morning show Today, beginning at the age of 25, where she was a co-anchor from 1976 to 1989, at first with Tom Brokaw, and later with Bryant Gumbel; for a short while in the late 1980s she and Gumbel worked with Deborah Norville. In 1989, with her job apparently threatened with Norville's addition to the program, she asked to be let out of her contract, and her request was granted. Her next regular anchor position was at the network's newsmagazine Dateline NBC from 1992 to 2003, where she teamed with Stone Phillips. In May 2003, she left NBC altogether after 27 years with the network. She briefly hosted an eponymous syndicated daytime talk show between 2004 and 2005 which was unsuccessful and was quickly cancelled. She continued to appear on television sporadically for several years thereafter but she struggled to find regular long-term work. In 2014 she appeared as an interview subject on the CBS program CBS Sunday Morning; positive audience response to this segment led to Pauley being hired as a contributor to the show later in 2014. She was elevated to the role of the program's host in 2016, succeeding Charles Osgood, once again making her the anchor of a regular morning news program for the first time in over 25 years and becoming her first job as the host of any television program since 2005; she continues in this role as of 2021.

Peter Jennings Canadian-American broadcast journalist

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings was a Canadian-American journalist who served as the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight from 1983 until his death from lung cancer in 2005. He dropped out of high school, yet he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists.

Television news in the United States has evolved over many years. It has gone from a simple 10- to 15-minute format in the evenings, to a variety of programs and channels. Today, viewers can watch local, regional and national news programming, in many different ways, any time of the day.

Jessica Savitch American television news reporter

Jessica Beth Savitch was an American television news presenter and correspondent, best known for being the weekend anchor of NBC Nightly News and daily presenter of NBC News updates during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Savitch was one of the first women to anchor an evening network news broadcast alone, following in the footsteps of Marlene Sanders of ABC News and Catherine Mackin of NBC News. She also hosted PBS's public affairs documentary program Frontline from its January 1983 debut until her death in an automobile accident later that year.

Harry Smith (American journalist) American television journalist

Harry Smith is an American television journalist, working for NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC as a senior correspondent. He hosted the CBS News morning programs, The Early Show and its predecessor, CBS This Morning, for seventeen years. In July 2011, Smith left CBS News to become a correspondent for NBC News and the now cancelled newsmagazine Rock Center with Brian Williams. He has also served as an anchor for MSNBC, conducting daytime live coverage of breaking news and events since first appearing in November 2015.

News program

A news program, news show, or newscast is a regularly scheduled radio or television program that reports current events. News is typically reported in a series of individual stories that are presented by one or more anchors. A news program can include live or recorded interviews by field reporters, expert opinions, opinion poll results, and occasional editorial content.

John Chancellor

John William Chancellor was an American journalist who spent most of his career with NBC News. He is considered a pioneer in TV news. He served as anchor of the NBC Nightly News from 1970 to 1982 and continued to do editorials and commentaries for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw until 1993.

Roger Mudd American broadcast journalist (1928–2021)

Roger Harrison Mudd was an American broadcast journalist who was a correspondent and anchor for CBS News and NBC News. He also worked as the primary anchor for The History Channel. Previously, Mudd was weekend and weekday substitute anchor for the CBS Evening News, the co-anchor of the weekday NBC Nightly News, and the host of the NBC-TV Meet the Press and American Almanac TV programs. Mudd was the recipient of the Peabody Award, the Joan Shorenstein Award for Distinguished Washington Reporting, and five Emmy Awards.

Broadcast journalism Field of news and journals which are broadcast

Broadcast journalism is the field of news and journals which are broadcast by electronic methods instead of the older methods, such as printed newspapers and posters. It works on radio, television and the World Wide Web. Such media disperse pictures, visual text and sounds.

Garrick Utley

Clifton Garrick Utley was an American television journalist. He established his career reporting about the Vietnam War and has the distinction of being the first full-time television correspondent covering the war on-site.

Lester Holt American journalist and news anchor

Lester Don Holt Jr. is an American journalist and news anchor for the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC. On June 18, 2015, Holt was made the permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News following the demotion of Brian Williams. Holt followed in the career footsteps of Max Robinson an ABC News evening co-anchor and Holt became the first African-American to solo anchor a weekday network nightly newscast.

Douglas Edwards American television news anchor

Douglas Edwards was an American radio and television newscaster and correspondent who worked for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for over four decades. After six years on CBS Radio in the 1940s, Douglas was among the first major broadcast journalists to move into the rapidly expanding medium of television. He is also generally recognized as the first presenter or "anchor" of a nationally televised, regularly scheduled newscast by an American network. Edwards presented CBS news on television every weeknight for 14 years, from 1948 to 1962. Initially aired as a 15-minute program under the title CBS Television News, the broadcast evolved into the CBS Evening News and in 1963 expanded to a 30-minute format under Walter Cronkite, who succeeded Edwards as anchor of the newscast. Although Edwards left the evening news in 1962, he continued to work for CBS for another quarter of a century, presenting news reports both on radio and on daytime television, and editing news features until his retirement from the network in 1988.

Brian Williams American journalist and television news anchor

Brian Douglas Williams is an American journalist at MSNBC, serving as the network's chief anchor and host of its flagship weeknight news program, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams. From 2004 to 2015, he was the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the evening news program on NBC. In 2005, NBC News was awarded the Peabody Award for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and Williams accepted the award on behalf of the organization. In February 2015, Williams was suspended for six months from NBC Nightly News for "misrepresent[ing] events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003", and on June 18, 2015, he was demoted to breaking news anchor for MSNBC.

References

  1. Dunning, John. "The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio."
  2. News broadcasting#United States
  3. 1 2 Zimmer, Ben (July 18, 2009). "Was CronkiteReally the First "Anchorman"? How we came to use the term". Slate.
  4. Hewitt, Don (2002). Tell Me A Story: 50 Years and 60 Minutes in Television. New York: PublicAffairs. p. 55. ... everybody who did what Walter Cronkite did would be called an "anchorman" ... And just as the fastest man on a relay team runs the anchor leg, Cronkite would run the anchor leg for us
  5. "If Cronkite wasn't TV's first anchorman, who was?". Futurity. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  6. Walter Cronkite dies, a July 17, 2009 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer
  7. Zimmer, Ben. "The Mystery of "Cronkiters" : Word Routes : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus". Visualthesaurus.com. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Brian Williams Case Raises Fundamental Questions About An Anchor's Role" (Radio broadcast). National Public Radio. February 12, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 "Should the TV news anchor go the way of the dodo?". the q (radio broadcast). April 24, 2015. Retrieved April 26, 2015 via http://www.cbc.ca.
  10. Starr, Michael (February 18, 2015). "'NBC Nightly News' loses 700K viewers after Brian Williams scandal". The New York Post. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  11. 1 2 Morse, Margaret (2004). Robert C. Allan & Annette Hill (ed.). The Television Studies Reader. New York: Routledge. p. 213. ISBN   9780415283243.
  12. Hart, Roderick (2000). Campaign Talk: Why Elections Are Good for Us . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p.  182. ISBN   1-4008-0354-3.
  13. Brokaw, Tom (Spring 1993). "Broadcast News: Television Coverage and Public Opinion". Harvard International Review. 15 (3): 37. JSTOR   42761120.(subscription required)