Why do news anchors talk like they do?

Hey all. I didn’t join this board because I liked any of you, but because I have a question. :wink: um. Just kidding.

Why do news anchors talk with the inflection, timing, and tone that they do? Do you know what I’m even talking about? The fellows in the studio usually talk pretty normally, but when they cut to some reporter standing out in a field talking about an unusually number of cow pies, they talk with this bizarre cadence…I can’t describe it without actually audibly imitating it. This seems to be a universal phenomenon (at least in the U.S. :cool: ) So. How did this evolve? Any reporters out there? I’m sure they train reporters on how to talk, but WHY did they decide to talk like that? Why? WHY? WHY!?! :mad: :confused: :dubious:

Affectations are a mystery to me. Tom Brokaw was raised in South Dakota, but now that he’s on camera in New York he has to mis-pronounce “Oregon” like all the others.

I think that it might have something to do with how people act when on camera. Being filmed can cause people to act unnaturally, choppy talking being one of the more common examples. Has anyone seen the training videos for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004? The couple who introduces you to the basics overacts so much it is almost physically painful. Sure, all they had to do was read the script and act normally, but somehow that didn’t happen.

Quite simply, they want every syllable to be understood clearly by every single viewer. Bob Dylan would make a horrible newscaster, as would Marlon Brando (circa 1957). They sacrifice naturalism for clarity.

IMO, because TV news is written for 6th graders, with no word a 12 year old doesn’t know. Honestly. Every time it rains in LA, or snows in NYC, a newsfolk has to report standing outside, telling us how cold or wet it is. Much like an elementary school teacher- lecturing to kids. The only time there is any “normalcy” is when it is an emergency,& there is no script. There are many ums,uhs, you knows & other fillers, & more of a "normal’ speech pattern.

If that’s John and Martha King (I haven’t seen the sofware) they’re rumored to be like that in real life, too.

Yeah, they’re cheesy.

My take is that by exagerating the intonation they want to make the news sound more important and have people remember them but now that everybody does it it has no efect except that someone who talked more casually would not be doing news for long.

I suggest that it might go back to the days of radio when reception wasn’t very good, and overenunciation was used to compensate.

It’s all part of the “PERSONALITY”. Since few of them have any real journalistic talent and are only there to read the news prepared for them, they have to make themselves stand out from every other newsreader in order to boost ratings. To do that, they must appear trustworthy. How do you appear trustworthy? Wear a conservative suit, look sincere, and speak in melifluous tones. Schools exist to teach just these things.

The Ted Baxter character did an hilarious sendup of this whole notion. I think it was he who mistakenly read a prompt during a newscast, saying something along the lines of “A serious fire broke out today, take off glasses, look concerned”.

What is the origin of the Radio/TV “announcer’s voice?” This is an interesting question. As a WAG I would say the TV announcers’s voice is obviously a direct descendent of the radio “announcers voice” which is a direct descendant of … hmmm…who is the Ur voice?

I looked on the old radio sites but did not see anything specific about the origin of announcing. I’d hazard a guess that stage actors turned announcers had something to do with it the early years of radio as the speaking skills (ie projection, diction and clear tonal enunciation) involved would have been similar.

I’m a Fox News junkie (Yeah, go ahead, roll your eyes at me) and I like that they all seem to talk more like regular people. My life likes to listen to NPR. Man, talk about boring, NPR news reporters want to make me go to sleep. They talk so slow, and quietly and soft, I think that they would make great golf announcers.

BTW, the Ted Baxter character was a parody of the late LA TV guy Jerry Dunphy, & some believe a little George Putnam-still on LA radio.

I hate how anchors always pause a few words before they cut to somebody else. Is this anything like what you’re talking about?

“Area Man thought he was just purchasing a regular VCR, but the real story… turned out to be not so simple.”

ok, my take on the way news anchors talk…

on the general way they talk:
the microphones have a limited pick up area and frequency range. they can also magnify lisps and other irregular speech patterns. instead of being able to understand the news anchor, you could just get a bunch of bursts of static because the man or woman is a heavy breather when they talk. most of the anchors are trained to talk a specific way for clairity sake - for coast to coast understanding and to have a clear sound.

on switching to a story or live report or such:
they have to make sure that the camera men, reports, and other TV people are prepared to make the transition. changing the way they speak it to get everyone’s attention. that way there isn’t any dead air or reports caught picking their nose on camera.

What I don’t get is the odd inflectional patterns, when announcers put stress on short little words that are normally unstressed. Example:

“This IS WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Oh, I had a doubt it really was that, thanks for reassuring me.

“The Secretary-General said he would convey the message TO the Prime Minister.”

Oh, was there some confusion about which direction it was going, and you had to stress the “to”?

That describes Jim Dolan on N.Y. station WABC, channel 7. New York listeners will back me up on this.He is rapid fire, stacatto, and, to me, annoying as hell.
It could be a story of a cop shot, or a story of a kitten in a tree. Same delivery. He can make mundane into sensational, and yet, you are drawn to his stories. Go figure.

To be honest, I always thought that they way they talked was because that’s how you’re supposed to talk if you’re an anchor or reporter, or such. I just assumed that it’s supposed to be professional sounding.

(Slight hijack)

Ok, so why do they pronounce “Carnegie” so weirdly in the NPR commercials? I had always thought it was pronounced “CAHR nuh gee” but they say “cahr NAY gee”. It doesn’t do much to alleviate the stilted quality of their speech.

The Dun King

Cause tawlkin nachrally is fulla slurs, elisions, glottoral stops, idioms, and regional pronunciations.

Talking with perfectly correct enunciation, and pronouncing every single syllable and consonant in a standard way takes effort. It helps to throw in a cadence of pitch, duration, and volume that goes up and down, long and short in order to make sense of the sentences one is saying.

Televangelists and preachers have their own style of doing this. As do policitical speakers (with one notable exception I’m not allowed to mention in this forum); and stage performers; and TV and radio announcers; and kindergarten teachers.

When someone eschews this formalized talking, they often run the risk of not being heard correctly.

Also, public speakers find themselves with mics and PA systems that aren’t working correctly (if at all) and background noise to compete with. That is why they are often ‘loud talkers,’ especially beat reporters on the street.


doin wa cumz nachrally

I always thought they went to an announcers’ school like Columbia School of Broadcasting (not affiliated with the Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.). Or, in Brokaw’s case, it comes from a bicycle pump up his butt.

There’s a certain element of style in it. News readers sound like news readers for the same reason disc jockeys sound like the announcers for monster truck rallies. It goes with the gig.