The TV News Reading class in a festival is always popular and often something that performers chose when they are new to festival work. We’ve all seen them on the “telly” and it looks really easy doesn’t it – right?

Well in this class you will be sent your TV News script 14 days before the Festival. The news will be topical and most likely taken from a recent local TV broadcast.

The key to TV News Reading is to keep your emotions under control. News Readers must not show bias and yet, at the same time, they must hint at empathy when a story is sad and smile gently when a story is amusing. Over dramatisation does not work in TV News Reading.

Preparing your reading

Personalising your reading

Although most of the text is given to you, often you are required to create your own beginning and ending. You could add a summary of the news at the start and end with the weather or sport but whatever you decide make sure it remains within the set time limit.

Understand the Passage

The news is recent, so if there is anything you do not understand look it up – it should be fairly easy to find reports on the subject which will make things clear. If there are words which are new to you get the dictionary out, it is impossible to communicate meaning when you do not understand it yourself.

Punctuation

Pay careful attention to the punctuation. Observe commas.  Commence on a new vocal note for a new paragraph, which usually denotes a new idea. Also clearly show through use of pausing when a new news item is beginning.

General text versus speech

It is important to clearly separate the general text from reported speech. This is done by introducing a very small pause before the quotation begins.

Emphasis and Pausing

For Hints and Tips on emphasis and pausing read the Blog “Hints and Tips – Performance Poetry”. In T.V. News Reading it is really important to pick out the salient words to emphasise – especially names of people – which may be foreign names. Keep these very clear.

Appearance

TV News Readers are always neatly presented – if you are to create the right impression you will need to be too. If you look the part it will help your audience to believe you are right for the role, it may also help you to feel the part as well.

To sit or to stand

Most performers will sit at a desk (a desk and chair will be provided). However, you may wish to stand and gesture if you have added the weather to the end of your reading. Some news readers stand throughout the entire news and you may wish to do this too. If you do this you will stand out from the other performers but it will only work if you can carry it off really well so be aware of the risks involved.

Looking to camera

TV News Readers have the advantage of autocue which you do not. This allows them to look into the camera all of the time. However, you need to read from the script provided. Wootton Bassett Arts Festival advises you to hold the script with the far end lifted slightly so that you can read it without having to tip your head up and down. If you leave the script flat on the table you will have to look down too much to read it and then all the audience will see is the top of your head. This way you can give the impression of talking to the camera most of the time.

These days News Readers do not always look at one camera straight ahead. Sometimes they switch to another camera when a new news item begins. If you wish to do this there is no reason why not but just like the decision to stand or walk around it will only work if you can carry it off really well so be aware of the risks involved.

Remember this is a reading

You will have about two weeks to practice the script and during that time you may find that you start to memorise it unintentionally. Although this may be difficult to avoid you must actually read the piece on the day. If you look at the camera for too long a period of time you may well lose marks. At the same time, you must communicate with the audience, and look up just enough to share the ideas with them.

Read REALLY slowly

You will be surprised how slowly you need to read – it is always slower than seems normal. The audience is listening to what you are saying and then trying to absorb it and make sense of it and all this takes longer than if they were reading the words themselves. Plus, if you speak slowly you will make fewer mistakes, and the reading will flow more smoothly. You will also find it easier to speak clearly without losing consonants along the way.

On the day of the performance

Before you begin

When you arrive at the stage wait for the adjudicator to be ready – you do not want them to miss your opening lines! Make sure your script is in the right order so that you can move smoothly from one page to the next.

Beginnings and Endings

The beginning of your script will have an introduction (which includes your name) make sure you are looking into the camera when you announce this. TV News Readers know this part of their script as it does not tend to change so look up and smile while you deliver the introduction. Then you can look down to take in the next line.

The end of your script will have a “sign off” and this should be delivered to camera too and don’t forget a smile at the end.

If you make a mistake…

…soldier on, you never know people might not notice!

When you finish

Wait a short moment at the end of your performance to show that you have finished rather than running away!

Have FUN

Don’t forget this is going to be FUN. You’ve spent two weeks getting to grips with this script and you are going to perform it in front of an audience. It will be exciting, exhilarating and you’ll feel really proud of what you have done and what’s more you’ll get a round of applause to boot!