TV News in Britain


  • till 1950s radio news
  • 1953 the Coronation was probably the first major event covered as we know it today.
  • 1955 ITNs News at Ten – style less formal. Even today BBC do not see news as entertainment.


  • While news gathering and transmitting have evolved, presentation has remained very traditional.
  • Deconstruction of camera angles, movement and position and editing can all manipulate the way we understand news events.
  • Pictures complement the narrative and conform to the news value simplicity.
  • Pictures must provide viewers with clear signifiers (semiotics); narration or voice over only added when it can
  • Meaningfully add to self-explanatory images.

News readers:

  • All knowing – looks at and speaks directly to the audience (like priest in pulpit)
  • Mid close up
  • In command
  • Delegates stories to the reporters
  • The link between stories
  • Authority – must look audience in eye so uses auto cue to avoid looking at notes – looking down or away indicates untrustworthiness.
  • (Over reliance on male presenters – channel 5s Kirsty Young in late 1990s shook things up a bit, perching on the edge of a desk, walking around, bright busy newsroom, conversational rather than lecturing – new informality.

The reporters:

  • Also looks the audience in the eye – confident
  • Med shot – upper torso and head

Authority figures:

  • Always mediated thru journalist / reporter, never to news reader.
  • Looks at reporter or it can make them look shifty or desperate if they look at audience.


  • Profiled in ¾ style
  • Looking slightly to side of camera or at interviewer, sometimes even out of shot
  • Why? Control, authority, trust, mediated by interviewer.

Link conventions:

  • Can be used to break up tedium of ‘talking heads’
  • Noddy shots, cutaways: when interviewer can be seen ‘reacting’ by nodding etc.
  • Pertinent images, graphics etc.

Piece to camera:

  • Where the reporter stands in front of a scene where something dramatic has / is happening and speaks directly to the camera.
  • Will always have the final say!


Uses of cutaways and noddy shots editing can cause conflict between broadcaster and subjects of news items.


The broadcasters’ agenda consist of:

  • Their own news values (see Sue Lawley and the King is Dead)
  • Conventions they use for delivery of the stories
  • Political or ideological positions of the stories.


  • Music at start: rhythmic beat sense of urgency.
  • Names of programmes indicative of content, unlike e.g. Cold Feet or 2,000 Acres of Sky
  • TV more popular than papers for the news
  • Gatekeepers – those who decide –m inclusion
  • Types of programmes:
    • Bulletins
    • Updates
    • Magazine types
    • Serious news with analysis
    • News flashes
    • 24 hour

TV news different from radio

  • Visual!
  • Eyewitnesses on camera
  • Interviews on camera
  • Realtime events