Monday, December 12, 2011

What it takes to be a TV news anchor

Commits alumna FAYE D'SOUZA (Class of 2004) is the assistant editor of personal finance at ET Now in Mumbai. She also anchors the "Investors' Guide" show on the channel. Here she gives television news aspirants helpful advice on what it takes to be a news anchor:

I will not pretend to know how to become an anchor on a television news channel; I am just a product of a series of events in my life that brought me here. Even so, I don’t consider myself an “anchor” as much as I consider myself a journalist presenting the show I work on is just one part of the job I do.

Nevertheless, I have put down some pointers that I hope might help those of you who see anchoring as a career choice.

There are two parts to being an anchor: content and presentation. Let’s start with the former.

There are several people who might lead you to believe that looking good is enough to become an anchor, and it probably is, but it’s not enough to keep the job. If you watch television news regularly you will know that the strongest and most respected anchors are those who are experts in their respective fields, specialists. Looks fade, knowledge and experience don’t.

READ at least seven newspapers every morning and scan updates on the internet right through the day. There is no excuse for being ill-informed in this business. Other than news, it helps to read whatever you can get your hands on. History, literature, the classics, the contemporary, art, music, even culinary books. It helps tremendously to be well-informed.

WRITE: Make a habit of writing your own scripts and run-downs. It will build your credibility as an anchor.

RESEARCH: Always be prepared. Find out everything there is to know about the guests on your show, about the stories you lead into, and the subject matter of your show.

Don’t confuse presentation with good looks. As I have noted above, looking good is temporary. But diction, clarity, and enunciation are not. Thankfully there are some tricks you can use to work on your presentation:

When you are reading those seven newspapers every morning, read them out loud. Become comfortable reading aloud in front of other people. If you are embarrassed by the sound of your own voice or you have trouble reading fluently, then anchoring is not going to come easily to you.

RECORD YOUR VOICE: We all think we know what we sound like, until we hear our voices played back. Make notes of the areas in which your voice falls short, the words you are having trouble pronouncing, and the problems you have with breathing while you read. Once you have a handle on your problems, speak to your teachers about them. Commits has the good fortune of having an accomplished voice trainer in none other than Ranita Ma’am, the dean, who can work wonders in this area.

WATCH YOURSELF: Make many tapes of yourself anchoring, watch them later when you are free to be your greatest critic. Make notes of the problems with your body language, facial expressions, and posture. Remember: an anchor needs to build a relationship of trust with viewers; a fidgety, nervous anchor will have no luck.

BE WELL TURNED OUT: Make sure your hair is always done, your face clean, and your clothes neat. Especially when you are not in the studio. You have to see yourself as on-air material before anyone else does. Start to look after your appearance now.

UPDATE: On November 1, 2015, Faye D'Souza launched a new channel for the Times Group, "Magic Bricks Now".


UPDATE (December 13, 2017): Earlier this year, Magic Bricks Now was rebranded as Mirror Now, a general news channel helmed by Faye D'Souza, who has been drawing praise from all quarters for her superb performance as journalist and anchor. Yesterday TV news legend Barkha Dutt tweeted this photo (see below). Her post read: "One for the album. I brought together Salma Sultan, Dolly Thakore, myself and @fayedsouza at @WeTheWomenAsia #WeTheWomen."


Also read:
  • Want to know how to have a successful internship at a TV news channel? Read this post.  
UPDATE (May 4, 2015): Veteran journalist Aakar Patel wrote an interesting piece recently in Mint Lounge on TV anchors he has interacted with. Read the article here: "The art and whimsy of being a TV anchor".

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