Sir Terry Wogan asserts that news reading is the easiest job in media. As a former TV producer, I can’t agree. Being an anchorman can sap the stamina and the will.
For a start, autocues aren’t as easy to read as you might think. Busy script writers commonly leave out or misspell words, or write long convoluted sentences against the pleadings of managers. The newsreader needs iron concentration to prevent being tripped up.
Sometimes it’s also necessary to go ‘off piste’ from the script to fill in a gap. (for example when a soundbite doesn’t…er… sound). Just try talking off the top of your head on a topic of current affairs for a minute. Now try it again knowing that if you stop you may not be seen on telly again.
Then there are the guests. These can be grumpy, late, deaf or monosyllabic. Maybe their English isn’t as good as it could be, so they don’t answer the question, or they answer a different question. Even compelling interviews can be ended prematurely by fickle satellite links. Bad sound can complicate the whole issue further. Sorry Minister could you repeat that?
Snags such as these are invariably accompanied by stream of invective into the newsreader’s earpiece. The tone of the comments from those nice people behind the scenes ranges from the laconic to the raving.
And finally, very few people get away with reading the news at comfortable times of day only. I virtually hero-worshipped my on-air colleagues because they could be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at times of the day when I was only pretending to be conscious. Honestly, would you want to be gawped at at 5am?