Why have TV news channels, the world over, stuck to this model of news? | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Why have TV news channels, the world over, stuck to this model of news?

Pakistan Press Foundation

Dear all,

These days, TV news consists of bad news mostly. The news reports and footage one sees is of war and upheaval, death and destruction. The stories are of bloodshed and suffering. The images are horrific and gritty. Yet they are cued in by slick, glossy-looking presenters wearing sharp suits and layers and layers of make-up.

Why does one need to wear heavy makeup and smoothed-down hair to present news? Why does one need to look so fake in order to present the ‘truth’ of a news story? The more horrific the news item, the more jarring the contrast between the presenter’s appearance and the news content will be. Especially when the overly made-up presenter has to do their restrained but emotional histrionics and try to sound shocked or empathetic over the bad news…

What we seem to now accept as the ‘TV news presenter look’ is itself bad news. Because it is completely fake whereas the vibe that TV news aims for is truth, authenticity, credibility. It seems to be in really bad taste and somewhat unnecessary to have tarted-up, over-powdered, over-coiffed people bringing us the news.

Why have TV news channels, the world over, stuck to this model of news? Surely in the 21st century TV journalism should have moved beyond this phase? It used to be the case that the American networks had the most made-up anchors and presenters, but now most mainstream news channels will stick to this studio look. And unfortunately the women fare far worse than men. Hair is straightened to fall into sleek shiny planes and a mask-like formula of contouring, shading and highlighting is imposed on the face. With such theatrical make-up in place, emotive renderings of the auto-cue are used too but this all tends to detract from authenticity. While the men will be suited and booted to look like smug professionals (lawyers or bankers perhaps), the anchorwomen mostly look like preoccupied air stewardesses.

It seems rather odd that in a day and age where we frown upon the use of alluring female images to sell cigarettes or cars, we have no objection to the use of female images to sell the news.

And the expectations are certainly higher for women — and a lot more superficial. Very many unattractive men appear in this role with very little done to their appearance whereas a woman’s appearance will be considered extremely important: curly hair will have to be straightened, facial imperfections will have to be corrected with layers of makeup, and clothes will need to be figure-hugging. Effectively, women presenting the news are forced to look like dolls or mannequins…

And what is that standing up to present the news all about? My view is that it adds nothing to the news story or studio visuals except a great deal of awkwardness. Why does your presenter have to stroll around the studio to cue in news reports or visuals? What really is the point?

And that is sort of my point: that TV news seems to have become so caught up in the ‘studio look’ that it’s forgotten the point of its production i.e. news and journalism.

Enough already with the made-up news! This is definitely one act that needs not just a clean-up but a total re-think. Let’s keep it clean. And real.

The News