Do News Reporters Read Teleprompters?

Do News Reporters Read Teleprompters?

News anchors and reporters have an incredibly difficult job. They need to deliver a huge amount of information smoothly, accurately, and authoritatively, all while maintaining eye contact with the viewer. To accomplish this feat, the vast majority rely on teleprompters.

Teleprompters enable news anchors to read their lines while looking directly into the camera. This creates the illusion of direct eye contact and helps build trust and engagement with the audience. Without teleprompters, anchors would have to look down frequently at their scripts or cue cards, breaking that visual connection.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how news reporters use teleprompters, including:

  • The different types of teleprompters used by news anchors
  • Key skills for mastering the teleprompter
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Expert tips for preparing teleprompter scripts
  • The history and evolution of prompter technology
  • Frequently asked questions

Whether you’re an aspiring broadcaster looking to understand the tools of the trade or just curious how news anchors make reading the news look so effortless, read on for an in-depth look behind the scenes!

The 3 Main Types of Teleprompters Used by News Anchors

There are three common types of teleprompters used in modern broadcasting:

Camera-Mounted On-Lens Teleprompters

These prompters attach directly to professional video cameras and project the text onto the lens. This allows the anchor to read while looking straight at the camera for maximum eye contact. Camera-mounted teleprompters range from small, portable models to larger studio rigs. They’re the most common choice for news broadcasting.

Key Benefits:

  • Maintains eye contact
  • Wide range of sizes and prices

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Can be heavy and awkward for field reporting
  • Requires professional camera

Floor or Standing Teleprompters

These free-standing teleprompters sit on the ground or a stand placed next to the camera. The anchor reads from a monitor screen that can be angled for comfortable viewing.

Key Benefits:

  • Very portable
  • Affordable option
  • Flexible positioning

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Harder to maintain eye contact
  • Takes up studio floor space

Presidential Podium Prompters

These specialized teleprompters are built into podiums for speeches and press events. Politicians like the President often use these glass panel prompters to deliver addresses.

Key Benefits:

  • Allows movement while reading
  • Looks professional for important speeches

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Less eye contact than camera-mounted
  • Only useful for speeches/events

4 Key Skills for Mastering the Teleprompter

Reading from the teleprompter may look effortless for veteran news anchors, but it’s a complex skill that requires practice. Here are 4 tips to help you step up your prompter game:

1. Find Your Optimal Speed

The number one teleprompter mistake is reading too fast. The words are scrolling at a set pace, so you need to master your cadence. Read slowly enough to deliver the information clearly. It’s better to go too slow than too fast.

2. Remember To Breathe

Teleprompter nerves can make you forget to breathe! Take calm, natural breaths between sentences to keep your delivery smooth. Avoid long run-on sentences without pausing.

3. Make Eye Contact With The Camera

Keep your gaze focused directly into the camera lens as much as possible for maximum viewer connection, rather than looking left and right at the prompter screens.

4. Stay Energized

Even veteran anchors have to work to keep their prompter delivery lively. Remember to smile and vary your vocal inflection. Avoid falling into a monotonous rhythm.

5 Common Teleprompter Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Reading from the teleprompter takes skill and practice. Be aware of these common mistakes:

1. Speeding Up Unnaturally

When nervous, many anchors talk too fast. Take a breath and slow it down!

2. Excessive Filler Words

Overusing “ums”, “uhs”, or nervous ticks when you mess up. Pause instead.

3. Not Preparing Your Script

Always read over your prompter script to avoid cold reads. Mark tricky words.

4. Getting Distracted By Mistakes

Pros roll with small flubs. Correct quickly if major and keep going.

5. Sounding Robotic

Conversational tone and inflection takes practice. Vary speed and emphasis.

Expert Tips for Preparing Teleprompter Scripts

Writing scripts specifically for the teleprompter requires an understanding of the medium. Follow these tips from the pros:

  • Simplify language: Avoid unnecessarily complex words. Use short, easy to read sentences.
  • Write like you talk: Use a conversational tone. First-person perspective can help.
  • Use line breaks: Break up long blocks of text with line returns after 1-2 sentences max.
  • Mark words to emphasize: Bold or capitalize words you want to stress.
  • Flag tricky names/terms: Add phonetic spellings for hard-to-pronounce names.
  • Indicate instructions: Add cues like “PAUSE”, “RECAP”, “VIDEO”, etc.
  • Leave wide margins: Formatting should leave ample borders for the prompter.
  • Triple check accuracy: Mistakes happen, but never make it to air with tight script review.

A Brief History of Teleprompter Technology

While teleprompters feel like an essential part of the modern news landscape, they’re actually a fairly recent development in broadcasting history:

  • 1950s – First teleprompter tested by CBS for soap operas
  • 1953 – President Eisenhower becomes an early political adopter
  • 1970s/80s – Smaller prompter models get popular for field reporting
  • 1990s – Presidential podium style glass prompters enter wide use
  • 2000s – Prompter apps allow use with smartphones and tablets

Today teleprompters are an indispensable tool for news anchors and political figures. The technology will only continue improving to allow smoother and more dynamic prompter-assisted presentations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all news anchors use teleprompters?

The vast majority of cable, network, and local TV news anchors use teleprompters for at least some part of their broadcasts. However, some may utilize paper scripts for certain segments.

How do news reporters memorize so much information?

News anchors and reporters generally aren’t expected to memorize their scripts. They read the news from the teleprompter or paper print outs. This allows them to deliver a large amount of complex, ever-changing information smoothly.

What happens if the teleprompter fails during a broadcast?

News teams prepare paper backup scripts if prompters malfunction. However, anchors train to ad lib short segments if absolutely necessary before scripts can be distributed.

Can I buy my own teleprompter as a beginner?

Yes, amateur and prosumer camera mounted teleprompters are available from around $100. However, working models with professional software can cost $500 to $1500+. Rentals are a good option if budget is limited.

How can I practice with a teleprompter?

If you don’t have regular access to prompter equipment, apps like BigVu and Parrot Teleprompter allow you to use an iPad or phone screen to simulate the experience. You can control scrolling speed and write scripts to practice anywhere. Online teleprompter services also exist.

Conclusion: Teleprompters Help Anchors Inform and Connect

As you can see, reading the news from the teleprompter is a complex skill – but a critical one for impactful broadcasting. Teleprompters enable anchors to maintain viewer eye contact while delivering error-free reporting.

With the right scripts, positioning, and practice controlling speed and tone, news reporters can leverage prompter technology to take their delivery to the next level. A few flubs here and there show that even the best pros aren’t perfect.

So the next time you watch breaking coverage seamlessly flowing from the anchor’s lips as they stare straight through the screen, remember the teleprompter quietly powering their presentation. With preparation and expertise, news teams make hard jobs look easy every day thanks to this ingenious technology.

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