Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Do Broadcast Journalists Smile When They Deliver Bad News

Up early this morning, and turned on one of those before-the-dawn network newscasts. The anchor (I won't disclose both because I was tired and it's not really about this particular, unfamiliar anchor, but about so many of them), smiled brightly and said, "Good morning."

And then launched into the following stories:
  • Huge floods in the Midwest, half of Iowa has been declared disaster areas. (A snarky commenter might say, "How could they tell?", but the footage looked awful.)
  • Heat wave on the East coast, responsible for several deaths.
  • Water funnels -- tornadoes -- off the Florida coast.
  • An airplane crash -- with footage of flames around the fuselage -- in which fewer people than originally estimated were killed, but 66 still unaccounted for.
  • Fires in Northern California destroys homes.
  • Gas prices continue to climb.
And as she tossed things over to the weatherman, she asked, basically, what's in store for us today on this good morning.

I did not get the actual toss word-for-word except for these words "this good morning."

My conclusion is this: she could not have possibly been paying attention to the words she had been uttering or the video on the monitor. The news on that segment was not good. Yet she continued to say so.

On mornings like this, I think anchors -- and the weather guy, too, who also said "good morning" with a strong emphasis on the word good -- would be better served if they had a welcome greeting that might reflect that it's not so good out there. The broad smiles that accompany these "good mornings" make it worse.

How about a stoic face when saying good morning? How about some way to acknowledge it's in fact been a tough morning?

Once, when I went to buy a car on a gray, drizzly day just short of being miserable, the salesman greeted me the same way this morning's anchor did, saying about the nice weather outside. He wasn't being ironic. Or trying to be funny. We left quickly, thinking if he was going to lie to us about the weather, what else would he lie about?

The same could be said about anchors who proclaim it a great day after reading reports about awful events.

They really need to come up with an effective way to say hello to new viewers.

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