I want to spend a couple of weeks talking about anchoring
and what that function entails. First, if you have gone into
the news business specifically to be an anchor, probably what
follows will be disappointing to you. There are precious,
precious few who will make the cut, and while this has absolutely
nothing to do with your value as a human being or as a journalist,
it can be disappointing to face that reality. Assume that
you will never anchor on a major news cast in a top 20 market.
I will, of course, be delighted to be proven wrong, but start
from that assumption.
In addition to all the other technical and performance skills
weve covered over the course of the past half year,
there are a number of additional skill-sets you
will need to develop to be a good anchor. Note that I am not
saying that having these skill sets will guarantee you a position
as an anchor, nor even necessarily improve your odds of getting
that gig, but clearly, if you dont have some of these
skills, you wont even be considered for the position.
One reality, outside the realm of what I coach and teach,
is that many news directors want a certain physical type.
I hate this, since many very talented reporters and on-camera
talent are so skilled as journalists and story tellers that
they really ought to be anchoring, but that is the reality.
Often news directors will say you need work on your
voice or you need to improve your story telling
skills or your writing isnt up to snuff...
- all of which may be true and yet miss the point completely.
No news director is going to look you in the eye and say the
reason Im not hiring you is because I dont really
like you... Its rude and its hard to justify
in a professional situation. It is much more acceptable to
say that you need work on your voice, performance skills,
and writing - which again may or may not be true - but which
hides the real reason you didnt get the gig: he/she
didnt like you, and there is no amount of voice coaching,
performance training or writing skills that can bridge that
Better that you should simply develop the skills over time
under any circumstance, so that when you are called to fill
in as an anchor, the transition will be smooth and easy. The
skills required to anchor can only help your reporting and
performance abilities anyway.
Finally, before we get into the technical aspects of anchoring,
if you look to this position in any way to compliment your
sense of self esteem, rethink the proposition. Busy, hard
working news departments not only dont want ego driven
anchors, they dont have time for them, and frankly,
they dont need to hire them. Of course, there are those
anchors who for a variety of reasons have taken on personalities
that are larger than life - and frankly insufferable, but
by and large, my experience has been that the majority of
experienced anchors exhibit not only superb journalistic judgement,
great comfort and skill before a camera or microphone, and
the ability to change course on a dime, they also exhibit
the kind of leadership and integrity that makes them a true
example for their newsroom. My experiences working with anchors
in both radio and television has led me to believe that as
a sweeping generality, as a group, they are willing to work
with and advise just about anyone in their news room. Their
position of privilege comes with certain leadership responsibilities.
Well go more in depth in future installments.
Until then, keep breathing!