Big screen TV
The House of Commons leader Jack Straw has criticised newsreaders for “prancing” around the studio. We think he means us, as BBC News recently launched dramatic new studios in which our presenters spend a brief part of the bulletin standing (although not walking, prancing or dancing).
Changes to TV News often occasion protests. When the BBC first introduced illustration of its TV bulletins with film and graphics, the Daily Mirror attacked the BBC’s “crass stupidity” for “presenting us with the creaky, stiff-jointed pages of a particularly silly scrapbook.”
Then, when newsreaders eventually appeared on camera, one critic insisted it was vital that no attempts were made by newsreaders to look friendly, as that might end unintentionally in a smirk. Audiences now seem to take newsreaders and graphics on screen in their stride.
Maybe the few viewers who have expressed concern about newsreaders standing up now might eventually come round, as previous generations did.
So why are newsreaders standing up? In the new BBC studios we have the ability to demonstrate a much wider range of graphical and visual illustration. Those marvellous big screens are best seen in “wide shot” and a presenter standing up simply fills the frame more effectively and allows us to see the spectacular images properly. Those images give viewers a window on the world and allow us to display graphics vividly that aid audience understanding.
We know some viewers are concerned about movement by presenters, so we have asked them to stand still and not move their arms too much. We will continue to listen to the concerns of those of the audience who are worried and we’ll experiment with the way we present to make it as comfortable and accessible as possible. But we do have a duty to present the visual side of TV news as effectively as possible, to attract as wide an audience as possible to the news. We are not changing to annoy people or to drive them away, so we’ll continue to weigh up how we are doing.