Morning Newscasts Need To Be On Topic

By Doug Drew 

One of the main reasons viewers watch a morning newscast is to look smart when they go to work. When viewers get to work and people are talking about the interesting story of the day, they don’t want to look stupid by not knowing what is going on! That makes one of the priorities of the morning news to be on topic, with the big talkers, watercooler stories or issues of the day.

Watercooler stories in a morning show not only give viewers a heads-up on the talkers of the day, but it also gives the anchors an opportunity to react, ad lib, and develop their personality. Anchors can’t show much personality reading news stories about Iraq, shootings, fires, traffic accidents, city council meetings, or gas prices. It’s imperative that morning anchors have a personality. All the stations in the market have the news of the day. Viewers will normally make their choice based on which personalities they most enjoy watching. These watercooler stories are where the talent says or does something the viewer will remember. Producers must make these “moments” happen and let them breathe, and anchors must be informed, and able to ad lib intelligently about these stories.

Sometimes you can plan for these, other times you have to be able to react quickly.


Overnight developments
If there is a big event in the evening, you need to be ready the next morning:

* Bus driver sees baby in road
* White House party crashers now want apology
* School bus catches fire in LA (amazing pictures)
* Fans running onto field (tasered!)
* Pitcher pitches perfect game
* John Travolta’s dogs killed by pickup truck on tarmac

Planning for being on topic
Scheduled events and days can be palnned in advance:

* Ironman opens
* American Idol season finale
* LOST final show
* Dancing With The Stars finale
* Memorial Day
* Father’s Day
* First day of summer
* Last day of school
* St. Patrick’s day
* Secretary’s day
* Cinco de Mayo
* Mother’s day

Beyond a news story
The trick is to make these more than a vo in the news. It’s about going beyond treating these as just news stories. Pick places in the newscast where the anchors can take time with these stories and let them react.

If something unusual happens overnight or first thing in the morning, do the same as you would for breaking news. When you have urgent breaking news, you keep coming back to it throughout the newscast. Do the same with a major “talker” that will be in the news that day. Often this is a news story that gets people really worked up. Remember, these are the stories that viewers will remember. When they get to work and chat with someone, you want them saying “…did you see that story this morning on Channel 2?”

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at