Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

The Segue

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Segue

This is a quickie.

CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose was talking about a women named Cassandra Blackwell who had created a Tumbler account called “Beyoncify my Boyfriend”  Ms. Blackwell, as a way to deal with a breakup, had photoshopped Beyonce’s face on her ex-boyfriend’s face in all of her photos with him.  The site has gone viral.  It was a cute story.  All of the anchors had smiles on their faces.

But next, Mr. Rose had to go to a story about the shooting down of Malaysia Flight 17 in Ukraine.  And because the previous story had been funny, it took a few seconds for him to have the voice and facial expression appropriate for that story.

The transition from happy to sad and vice versa is always a tough one for TV (and radio) hosts.  Blooper tapes show plenty of anchors still giggling as they try to tell a following story of tragedy.  For Randy Newman fans, the verse from his hit “Dirty Laundry” pops into mind.

“See the bubbleheaded bleach blond.  She comes on at five.  She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye.”

But all of us should know by now that is an ugly caricature.  TV has trained us to read every facial twitch and micro-expression.  And social media makes inappropriate anything from authority figures not considered absolutely homogenized behavior.  But anchors are people and it’s not even a mistake when a funny story lasts too long in their mind.  More likely, it’s the producer who needs to take care to not put such diametrically opposed stories back to back.  It’s a reminder that a newscast is a team sport.  And to carry the metaphor a little further, sure, the athlete needs to rely on their training to not do something that loses points, but sometimes, the coach has to give players transition time between hits to recover.

Which, by the way, in the news business, is called a segue.

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Written by Interviewer

July 31, 2014 at 23:31

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