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