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The Mechanics of Newsreading.

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1 The Mechanics of Newsreading.
Presenting The News The Mechanics of Newsreading.

2 Speed. The right reading pace is one which is comfortable for the reader, clear to the listener, and which suits the station’s style. That could be anywhere between 140 to 220 words per minute. British radio usually prefers 3 words per second, or 180 wpm, which is natural and pleasing pace. TV may run a little slower.

3 Speed. Three words per second is also handy formula for timing a script. The BBC’s World Service, aimed at an audience for whom English is a foreign language, paces itself between 140 to 160 wpm. Pace is less important than clarity, and an aid to clear reading is to pause. Pauses help listener make sense of the copy by dividing the sentences into sense groups.

4 Breathing. Good breathing brings out the richness and flavour of the voice. Sit correctly: First half of the body should be upright or inclined forward, with the back slightly arched. Legs should not be crossed. Breathing through mouth permits faster refueling than through the nose. But do it without making noise.

5 Projection. There are different school of thought whether newsreaders should project their voice or talk naturally? In television conversational tone is preferred. In radio newsreaders have to work harder to get attention. That means projection of voice in an acceptable fashion. BUT YELLING IS NOT THE WAY TO MAKE SURE EVERY SYLLABLE IS HEARD-CLEAR DICTION IS.

6 Emphasis. Extra emphasis should be placed on key words and descriptions. Example ‘The PENTAGON has ADMITTED that a FREIGHTER carrying SCUD-C MISSILES has reached IRAN, despite attempts by US WARSHIPS to INTERCEPT it. An AMBARASSED Defence Department official could NOT Explain how the NORTH KOREAN vessel had given the Navy the SLIP.

7 Emphasis. Shifting the position of the emphasis in a sentence can completely alter its meaning and tone. This can have a dramatic effect on the story. Example. HE said their action had made a walkout inevitable. (Stress on he suggest that others might disagree with the statement)

8 Emphasis. He SAID their action had made a walkout inevitable. (Stress on said casts doubt on the truth of the statement) He said THEIR action had made a walkout inevitable. (The speaker now sounds as though he is pointing a finger in accusation at another group of people.)

9 Pitch or Modulation. Sentences usually begin on an upward note, rise in the middle, and end on a downward note. These are known as uppers and downers. But what happens when the last word belongs to a question? These uppers and downers are signposts to the listener. They subconsciously confirm and reinforce the way sentence is developing and help convey its meaning. Modulation can add interest to the voice and variety to an item, but random modulation coupled with universal stress can make an audience grateful for the commercial break.

10 Microphone Technique. The important things to avoid with microphones are popping and paper rustle. Popping occurs when the mouth is too close to the mike. Increase the distance with the microphone or turn the mike slightly to one side. The microphone, being closer to the script than the reader’s ears, will pick up every rustle and scrape of the page, unless great care is taken in moving the paper.

11 Microphone Technique. Most directional mikes will give their best results about 15 cm (6 inches) from the mouth. Different microphone effects are possible: The closer the mike is to the mouth, the more of the voice’s natural resonance it will pick up. The voice become sexy. Where voice is naturally lacking in richness, close mike work can sometimes help compensate.

12 John Toughey, BBC World Service Newsreader.
Microphone Technique. ‘One should sit in a reasonably upright way with one’s face towards the microphone. A lot of people I’ve noticed tend to drop their heads over their scripts, so the sound waves from the mouth are reflected rather than going directly into the microphone. Always address the microphone properly. Breathing should be from the diaphragm and one should not make a noise. You hear a lot of heavy breathing and that should be avoided. Instead, take a controlled intake on breath at the start of each item.’ John Toughey, BBC World Service Newsreader.

13 Using the Prompter. ‘Autocues can make or break you in a live programme.’ Anna Ford, British Newsreader. ‘The most important thing with an Autocue is to make sure that you check it. The operators are very good but everybody’s human. Words can be misspelt, words can be left out.’ Andrew Gardner, UK Newsreader.

14 John Humphrys, BBC Newsreader.
Noise. While earpiece is an important piece of equipment for every newsreader it is also the biggest distraction for them. ‘You’ve got to develop a split brain to be able to read the news and listen at the same time. John Humphrys, BBC Newsreader.

15 Bringing the Story to Life.
The newsreader must identify with the story, and transform it from being mere words on a page. The copy has to be lifted off the paper, carried through the microphone, transported over the airwaves, and planted firmly in the listener’s imagination. And that is done by telling a story.

16 Bringing the Story to Life.
A simple tip-when you are happy, you smile, so when you smile, you sound happy. But if the news is grave, the newsreader could do little worse than to sound as though the unfortunate victim has just won a lottery. “Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves” Lewis Carroll, BBC newsreader


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