The teleprompter disappeared this morning. I mean, it was physically there.. it just didn't work. Did you notice as you watched Newschannel 8 at Sunrise--- Russ and I looking up and down between our scripts and the camera? : - ) When it's functioning, the prompter allows us to maintain eye contact with the camera-- and hence, our audience. We see the news scripts scrolling in front of us. We're reading but it appears we're conversing.
After "Good Morning," the first thing Russ said to me just after 4 a.m. was "better know your scripts, the prompter's out." We easily have more than 100 scripts to go through every morning.. and no prompter means memorizing a part of each script we read-- at least the portion presented on camera.
TV technology has given us so many bells and whistles, it's amazing the stuff our crew pulls off on a daily basis.. but when there's a glitch-- however small-- it's our job to keep going-- to make our newscast coherent even if it feels chaotic behind the scenes.
No prompter this morning got me thinking about TV news when I started in the biz back in the 80s. Nothing was computerized, we had a prompter operator
who sat at a little desk feeding paper scripts that were taped together through some gizmo that looked like a high school projector!
Then, when budget cuts eliminated that position, I rolled my own teleprompter via a foot pedal under the anchor desk. That was HILARIOUS because the pedal was sooo sensitive.. too much pressure made it speed up. As I recall, there was no way to throw it into reverse... so what I was talking about and what I saw in the prompter never matched! I definitely had that "deer in the headlights" expression on my face on more than a few occassions.
Good times-- and great stories. Anyone who's worked in TV news has a million
side splitting tales of how they ended up on the "blooper" tape--- or these days, on youtube!!
So... the next time you're looking at me.. and I'm not looking at you... remember--
there's more to TV news than meets the eye.