Turn on the five o’clock news on your local TV station and you’ll see that the anchors are no longer sitting behind their usual desk with a generic background. Instead, they are standing by a plasma TV, or in front of a wall of monitors showing a local cityscape.
Over the past few decades, broadcast news has become more popular than print news. Instead of reading articles in the Sunday paper as a main source of news, TV viewers are able to get their information, and a lot of it, in a much shorter time. Visual aspects (video and graphics) and sound bites, allow the viewer to understand the story better. But now the evolution of the Internet is challenging TV news.
Many people today, especially millennials, are getting most of their news from websites and social media. Cord-cutters and cord-nevers are now threatening TV news outlets with the fear that their scheduled broadcast will one day become irrelevant.
In order to remain relevant and gain viewership, stations are now using the latest technology to upgrade their sets and to tell the story in new and appealing ways.
News studios are starting to become much more tech-savvy. Anchors and reporters continue to use traditional desks, but are surrounded by monitors and are able to move to plasma TV’s or a multipurpose center that includes monitors and can be used in a variety of ways.
KING 5 News in Seattle, Washington is an example of a studio that recently made the upgrade. The studio is a 360-degree set, which means the anchors and/or reporters can deliver the news from any point in the set, giving them flexibility. Eleven additional cameras were added to allow for this to happen. The studio is filled with LED lights that gives the set a modern feel. Anchors there say the new set helps them to tell stories better and give the viewers at home a better understanding of the story.
A local example of this would be KWWL in Waterloo. Recently, the station built a brand new set similar to KING 5 in many ways. The set includes a desk, monitors, and high-definition quality along with a designated weather center that is also surrounded by many monitors and computers. The purpose of this technology is to give viewers an innovative way to see the news and understand the story.
Along with high-tech studios, TV stations are also using new technology to tell the story better out in the field. TV news drones are starting to become much more popular. Drones are portable and are fairly easy to operate. Drones are best used for giving the viewer a better sense of a natural disaster or a scene, like a major car crash, that can help keep viewers safe.
TV news drones are also starting to replace TV news helicopters because they are less expensive, portable, quieter, and they can fly closer to the ground.
Along with drones, some stations are starting to experiment with 360 cameras. These cameras allow the viewer to see every angle of a scene all at once. The BBC experimented with 360 cameras in the Swiss Alps and they were able to pull off a broadcast with immersive views from all perspectives. While they were successful, the camera crews decided that 360 video is best when it is on online platforms. This is because viewers can interact with the 360 images and choose what they want to see. Producers believe that 360 video also is only suitable for some stories.
While TV news is trying to tell the story better and gain viewership with new technology, it may not be everything viewers want. Keeping up with modern technology is a positive thing, but when it comes to news, if the content is not there it may not be as positive as stations think. Comments on articles about studio “set theory” explained how viewers don’t necessarily care about the technology, they care about the quality of the stories that are being presented. Going forward, TV news stations should try and keep up with the latest technology, but should not forget good quality journalism that many people may seek when tuning into their broadcast.