Because it’s “bringing back the news in news,” I have switched from the Today show to CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and from the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams to the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Charlie Rose has a warm tone of voice and is easy to follow and understand. He has the avuncular quality that served Walter Cronkite so well. Scott Pelly is also easy to follow and sounds less of a news announcer like Brian Williams, and more like a good neighbor doing what legendary Atlanta WSB Radio Manager Elmo Ellis taught me when worked for him. He said, “Tell a story the same way you would when talking to a neighbor over the backyard fence.” Pelly also has great credentials as a news reporter.
ABC’s Dianne Sawyer also has a warm, conversational delivery, but I stopped watching the ABC’s World news Tonight when I felt that it became “news light,” with the emphasis more on soft than hard news. When I watch the evening news, I want news.
Both Sayer and Pelley are gaining on ratings leader Williams. He’s still ahead but not as much as he was. I like him and have no problem watching him, especially when he ad-libs. He sounds conversational when he ad-libs, but not when he reads.
I suppose what I like about them most is that they don’t sound rushed. I sampled ABC’s Good Morning America when the big flooding stories hit and could not believe the sensationalized reporting. The reporters were talking as fast as they could and were almost yelling as they wildly gesticulated doing their standups in front of raging creeks and rivers. The video editing of the flooding was done in rapid-fire takes. That’s really not necessary. There is certainly no need to sensationalize a story that is already sensational.
As I watched the sensationalized reporting, it occurred to me that the on-air personalities were probably following the directions of some broadcast consultant firm’s coaches. I remember when some out-of-town consultant coaches would tell me I needed to pick up the pacing of my delivery, and should gesticulate more to emphasize what I was saying. They really wanted rapid-fire delivery. I would politely listen to them, but I knew they would be leaving the next day, and I continued to deliver the news at my own conversational pace and style. What did they know about what people wanted in the market that I had lived and worked in for a lot of years? One size doesn’t fit all.