Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Put out an APB for a missing verb, last seen in your local newscast

Newscasts are home to some of the most-annoying cliches in broadcast journalism. And every reporter, anchor, and producer has been guilty of using at least one in their career, including me. But now there's a new cliche that has worked its way into every local newscast in this market.

Newsrooms are now getting into the habit of dropping verbs from sentences, probably in an effort to increase the urgency of the story. Example: "President Bush in Tokyo today," not "President Bush is in Tokyo today." No matter what local station you watch, chances are, the anchors are speaking in broken English.

WNEP seems to be especially guilty of verb-dropping, with broken phrases such as "Skycam 16 over the Susquehanna River today." Yes, we know you want to cram more news into less time, but saying "is" or "was" isn't going to make the newscast run over. And on WBRE's 11 p.m. newscast last night, Andy Mehalshick informed viewers that "WBRE's Joe Holden at that meeting tonight."

The Stone Age was a couple billion years ago. Nobody talks like cavemen anymore. Put the verbs back into your newscasts!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God for letting me know, I thought my hearing was going or there was something wrong with my tv....

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I agree that missing verbs are probably to create a greater sense of urgency or importance, but I think it may also be an offshoot of text meant to "headline" the pictures. You're seeing who and you're seeing where, though without hearing "who" and "where", it's just another picture of someone somewhere. Of course the missing verb INTROS that happen before video accompaniment are probably a bastardization of that same tactic.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Tom Carten said...

I'm not defending the practice, but I rather suspect they are simply putting a newspaper headline in speech form. Doesn't work. That's why we have those little supers at the bottom: Skycam16 logo, "Susquehanna River," and the fact it's today should be a given.

Leaving out the verb does make it seem as if it's such a hot, breaking story we just can't afford verb-time. But the newsfolk have enough time for chatter during the toss.

"I am forgotten," said the verb unsaid,
"No longer uttered by the talking head.
"It's lonely, you see,
"Here on news tv."
>>Where's your verb? That story just ahead!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. or Ms. Beale,

A professional in/out of the biz, you understand the use of action words and sentences.
Shortening the sentence without the use of a "to-be" verb, in my opinion, gives the sentence some punch.
Just my humble opinion as a professional journalist.
Thanks for the ear.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Punch? Why I'd love some.

8:01 PM  

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