In lieu of actual news

The 24-hour news cycle seldom contains anywhere near 24 hours of news. The purveyors of such things, therefore, have calculated that to retain as many eyeballs as possible, they have to resort to things which are technically not news. This includes the early-evening pontificating gasbags, the semi-cute morning shows, and, as Roberta X discovers, just a hint of fanservice:

I returned to full consciousness in time to have my eyeballs tugged out by a push-zoom from a handheld camera moving from the “anchor” (a leaden thing that was preventing motion) to a diminutive meteorologist; this move was followed up by the same handheld staggering across the set to end in a shot of the weatherlady from a vantage at least a foot and a half higher than the top of her head — a shot they held she proceeded to relate the weather with the usual Ritual Gesturing, accompanied by a disconcerting amount of cleavage. I’m not at all sure what the point was — drawing in the male viewership, perhaps? — but as the overture to a headache, it worked all too well.

Now that was worth quoting just for the definition of “anchor.” Still, weird camera angles are part of the Total News Experience these days. I never stay up late enough to see Fox’s Red Eye, for instance, but screenshots inevitably reveal a lowish camera placement — and an attractive female in what is known as the “leg chair.” Tamara Holder occupies that position in this shot:

Tamara Holder on Red Eye

Nor, as Jamie Colby illustrates, is this technique confined to fringe-time shows:

Jamie Colby on Fox News

Or, for that matter, to Fox. See, for instance, CNN’s Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras:

Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras on CNN

We may say that we’d rather get the news from some grizzled Chet Huntley type. In some cases, it might even be true. But cable news apparently can’t afford to take that chance.



  1. Jennifer »

    11 December 2010 · 6:28 pm

    And to think it largely started with on Ms. Mary Loretta (Mariette) Hartley and her Lloyd’s of London insured gams. Life imitating art, yet again.

  2. Brett »

    11 December 2010 · 6:37 pm

    I’m sorry, did you type something?

  3. fillyjonk »

    12 December 2010 · 4:27 pm

    I guess they figure women never watch the news? Or they don’t spend money with the companies that advertise on the shows?

    Though I’m not sure what the for-women version of the “leg chair” might be. Having a young newsman with a nicely chiseled chest read the headlines while wearing one of those tight cycling jerseys, maybe.

  4. CGHill »

    12 December 2010 · 5:03 pm

    Men, I am given to understand, are believed to be far more susceptible to television advertising, which would explain a lot about contemporary beer commercials.

  5. Roberta X »

    12 December 2010 · 7:56 pm

    …And don’t forget Cosmo covers. I never really got that…

  6. CGHill »

    12 December 2010 · 8:13 pm

    It’s my belief that the draw of the Cosmo cover is not so much the young lady portrayed — they pretty much all look alike — but the digits offered beside the cover story (“273 Hottest Beauty Secrets!”).

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