TV homework – one of the great mysteries of television is what goes on behind the news reading desk.
A question I’m asked without fail when giving a talk on the media is “What do you wear under the desk? Is it true you’re wearing shorts?” Why this is a perpetual question I don’t know. True, in the early days studios became very hot with the banks of lights glaring down on you it could become very uncomfortable. To keep cool we often wore shorts.
Things have changed, there’s air conditioning and the lights are now “cool”. However even with these creature comforts in the heat of summer I’ll wear shorts to work and only change the top half to a suit.
One thing about TV news reading still remains a mystery with me even after 30 years in the business. Why do news readers (me being the only exception I’m aware of) hold a pen in their hand while they read?
Have you ever in all your years of News watching seen a news reader actually use the pen? They never do.
The reason given is they may need to write something. On that basis they should have a box of tissues on the desk in case they need to blow their nose, a glass of water if they need a drink.
Those items are available but out of sight.
So why the pen? One night when reading with Jane Doyle on 7 News I hid her pen just before the bulletin started. I quickly gave it back to her when she broke out in a cold sweat fearing she could not go on.
So it’s a security blanket.
Here’s the homework for you. When your watching your favourite news service tonight check the hands, if you can spot a a penless reader let me know.
Saturday and Sunday nights on 7 News Adelaide don’t count – that bloke works without a safety net.