The live cross

I come from the Joe Atkinson school of broadcast journalism, by way of Bill Ralston’s news and current affairs department. While these men may disagree on may points, one on which I’m sure they would agree unequivocally is the pointlessness of the live cross on TV news bulletins. 

Could someone explain to me please, what is the point of having journalists stand outside, often in the dark (I watch the late news), battling the harsh NZ elements to say “Well, it was all action here a couple of ours ago…”?

Worse than that, the journalists don’t really seem to reveal much in their crosses anyway. All the do is introduce the piece they’ve written and then wrap it closed at the end. They clutter the bulletin.

On top of that the anchors are made to look like morons by asking stupid questions written by producers. “What’s the weather like out there Anna?”

Presumably, the crosses are there for promotional purposes. To show the viewers that such-and-such TV team have reporters everywhere and will therefore always be there to get the story first.

Except anyone with brains will tell you that that’s bullshit as news editors dictate the news agenda anyway and will only make a big story out of something for two reasons: 1) If they can get a live cross there, or 2) If someone else has already got a live cross there.

The late Walter Cronkite, a guy who knew a thing or two about news, loathed live crosses to reporters in the field. His argument was if the reporters’ comments were important enough they should have been packaged in the story itself.


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