Is Less Face Time More Effective For News?

Newscasts in the United States rely heavily on made-up men and women with deep, enticing voices to present the best, most current news to viewers across the world.

NBC's Brian Williams

NBC’s Brian Williams

NBC Nightly News‘ Brian Williams is the face, voice and main icon for the network, representing one of the most reliable sources broadcasted on television. Audiences trust him, interpreting news through expressions and tone.

However, this does not seem to be the case when it comes to news-watching on Deutsche Welle (DW), a global media forum featuring multiple languages like German – if you couldn’t already tell by its name. Watching DW’s live stream was visually stimulating, but not in the way Americans are used to.

DW's Brent Goff

DW’s Brent Goff

I watched “Germany Today” followed by “The Journal,” along with newscasts by DW’s main presenter Brent Goff. Notice I said “presented” rather than “anchored.” Normally, when you watch a U.S. newscast, an anchor like Brian Williams welcomes you and leads viewers through the show. The segment “Germany Today” merely started with the male presenter saying, “Here’s what’s happening today,” and the newscast was off.

Interestingly enough, I spoke with Goff through Facebook, and he agreed with he differences in U.S. and European news anchors, especially since he’s an MU grad as well. DW’s newscasts are extremely informational, but again, less personable.

A “package” is what broadcast journalists refer to as a story with video, interviews and the reporters voice speaking over it all. DW’s newscasts generally consisted of package after package, along with other national stories presented as voice overs layered on video. Click here for an example of one of my own, published for KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo.

Those packages and stories were broken up only by music sounds and transitions. We don’t see the presenter’s face at all, whereas Willams gets face time every 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on the story.

Now, DW produces newscasts more similar to what we’re used to in the states as well, but the fact that other faceless shows also exist is intriguing. Below is a DW newscast that uses more anchoring like a Nightly News segment, showing Goff’s Missouri roots.

While the anchors lead the show more in this example, I still don’t find them as conversational as I’ve been taught (trying) to be. Feel free to check out one of my newscasts below. I’ve been working on facial expressions and tone to improve my delivery of the news.

If you’re not sad during a sad story or express any inappropriate expressions while anchoring, audiences lose faith and respect in you, just like that. However, if you master these methods, the rapport you establish with your viewing area can benefit you and skyrocket your show up the ratings.

I’m wondering what is more appealing to viewers because many people do relate to local and national anchors, feeling like they’ve grown up with them or known them for an extended period of time. Without that face time, you lose the personal element of the news, even if it may be distracting during a flub, at the very least.

DW presents the facts just like U.S. networks do, but I wonder what actually suits audiences better and provides the best platform for news consumption. There are so many positive reviews of DW online that I had trouble finding any other opinions out there about its coverage.