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Jon Beaupré is a voice and performance consultant for radio and television performers. Under the name Broadcast Voice, he provides private training and workshops for reporters, anchors, sports and weather casters, and others working in electronic and broadcast media. He teaches in the Broadcast Communications program at California State University at Los Angeles, and conducts workshops and seminars with the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He has been a fixture on the convention circuit, teaching workshops at a wide range of specialty journalism and broadcast conventions and stations on both coasts of the U.S.

Those who teach...

January 14th, 2002

I often recommend that news directors, producers, news assistants and the like take voice and performance training. While these folks may never appear on camera or behind a microphone, having a working knowledge of how the performer works can be an invaluable addition to the skill set acquired by any experienced ‘newsie’.

It is a truism in theatre that the best acting teachers often make terrible directors and the best directors make terrible acting teachers. This is because the needs and goals of these two people are diametrically opposed. The director is primarily interested in the end product, the emotional reaction an audience has to a given performance, and he or she really doesn’t care how the actor gets there. In a like manner, acting teachers are vitally concerned with ‘the process’ the actor goes through to reach the various sorts of emotional truths they are trying to portray, and of necessity, have less concern with the finished product.

In a like manner, a news director may have a clear idea of what he or she wants to see in terms of the comprehension and emotional ‘truth’ of his or her reporters or anchors, and in general, they don’t really know or care how they get there.

So, when a news director or executive producer goes through the voice and performance paces reporters and anchors go through, they have a better sense of what those processes are like.

As a recommendation to budding news directors and producers, when you coach your reporters and anchors in the areas of voice and performance, try to see the processes that lead to the peformance you want, not just the end results. State what you expect in terms of results clearly, but understand that each performer (actor or reporter) has their own way of getting there. Those personal methods of getting at ‘the truth’ of a performance are mysterious and magical, and they hold as true on a news set or location shoot as they do in the theatre. When a reporter speaks from the heart, and really connects with the audience, the story is more than a summary of facts. It becomes an emotionally satisfying experience as well.

Furthermore, when crusty old newsies demean this kind of performance training as fake or more show-biz than news, just remember that there is no escaping the reality that no less than the actor or musician, the reporter is a performer as well.

The question is NOT whether or not the reporter is a performer, but rather whether or not they are a good performer.

Keep breathing.