Who do you watch, if anybody, on television for the news? Do you have a favorite anchor?
I used to watch CNN Headline news every evening for about a half-hour. Their format was fast-paced, and within a 30-minute time span I could get at least a quick glance (“Headline” news, right?) of all the main events going on in the country and the world.
Then CNN changed. Now their prime time headline news features the newscasters more than the stories. Or so it seems to me.
The “personalities” who present the stories inject a lot of their own emotions or feelings into their reporting. I guess that’s nothing new, but now it seems that they compete with each other to see who can give a story more emotion.
Paula Zahn is one of the worst, with Anderson Cooper not far behind. Paula speaks loudly with body language, facial expressions, and tone. And all of those non-verbals are screaming, “ISN’T THIS HORRIBLE!?”
Occasionally, when interviewing someone, Paula will make repeated efforts to get them to tell us how awful things are. She’ll furrow her brow and ask the person, “Well, how does that make you feel?”
If the interviewee doesn’t respond with enough horror or emotion, she plunge on with, “Yes, but don’t you think that is just terrible?” Her tone tells you that she is just appalled! And you should be too!
Sometimes I’ve listened to one of her reports, and then played it back in my mind using neutral tone and an interested but otherwise blank expression. Gee, guess what? The story is just as compelling, but I don’t have that urge to cluck my tongue, shake my head, and say, “Can you imagine that?”
The newscasters' whole demeanor pushes hard on the viewer to be outraged or incredulous. To me, it’s too much. Its lack of subtlety causes it not to work for me. I don’t like to feel manipulated, and their (apparent) efforts to project their emotion into me makes me balk.
And I then find that I’m so turned off by their hyper-projected emotion, I’ve lost the thrust and real flavor of the story they’re reporting.
What to do? Watch Fox News, with its widely acknowledged spin toward the right? Watch the ABC/CNS/NBC networks, with their widely acknowledged tilt toward the left? Go burrow under a rock and ignore current events?
I find myself leaning towards getting the actual stories from either the internet sites or tomorrow’s newspaper, and just watching the TV reports for the video clips.
Anybody else have this problem, or is it just my advancing senility and resistance to change?