The State of the Union, The State of Local Television News, The State of the VJ Revolution

I watched the State of the Union address with my lovely and talented bride who is an admitted political junkie. That means we watched it all including rebuttal and analysis. That’s a good thing. We all need to know the State of the Union. And no, I’m not going into the politics of what was said but rather what I was witnessing on screen. Some news/information shows have started using so-called body language experts to determine what someone on camera is thinking or feeling. I’m not an expert but so I can only tell you what I saw and my personal interpretation.
First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What was going on with the eyes. Maybe her contacts were dry or the bright lights in the Chamber were bothering her. All I know is that I found her constant and rapid blinking to be extremely distracting. I guess the camera shot was such that they wanted to keep both Pelosi and Vice President Dick Cheney framed in the background with President Bush. Pelosi appeared to be nervous, and during the first few minutes appeared to be swallowing hard and licking her teeth a lot. Maybe it was a mint or candy or something.
Vice President Cheney didn’t blink much at all. In fact he seemed to stare a lot. Once, when the President started talking about reducing gasoline consumption, Mr. Cheney looked off to someone to his left, actually smiled and winked at someone. I don’t know if he was acknowledging someone in the audience or perhaps sharing his thoughts on what the President was suggesting.
The camera caught Secretary of State Rice listening so intently that she appeared to be trying to “will” President Bush to say something or do something. It was a laser beam stare.
There were several shots of Sen. Clinton sitting there watching and listening with a frozen smile on her face. Interestingly enough, almost all of the camera shots showed Sen. Obama in front of her. No close ups of the Senator from Illinois. The one shot I saw of Sen. Kerry, caught him looking rather dis-interested in the whole thing.
The one shot of I remember of Sen. McCain made him look like he was asleep although he could have been reading his copy of the SotU address that so many people had with them.
As for the President, Mr. Bush seemed to have a good presence. As was later pointed out by pundits, he started strong being quite gracious to the House Speaker and did not appear to smirk as he has in a few of his past SotU speeches.
Now before anyone accuses me of some kind of bias, I’m merely pointing out what I saw as a viewer. Enough said there.

I waited too late to see who wore red among local newscasters. By the time I remember, WREG and WMC had gone to national news. I switched over to Fox 13 and saw at least two people wearing red and that may have been by accident. For those not up to speed, someone in the Watercooler section of ShopTalk suggested that local newscasters wear red every Wednesday in a silent protest pertaining to the direction that TV news is going. I posted on this previously if you want to read more.

And finally, I’ve been trying to find out more on the State of the Video Journalist. Some recent postings on ShopTalk suggested that WKRN in Nashville was abandoning the effort. According to the GM there and some insiders, that is NOT the case though some might wish it were. What fueled this speculation was that WKRN was hiring reporters not to become VJs but to work with a videographer as a team. According to the GM there, WKRN is very much committed to the VJ concept realizing that the VJ situation isn’t right for every news story. I’ve heard the same from those who practice the art of VJing on a regular basis. Sometimes you just need more on a story. And I can understand how the VJ thing can be difficult if you are trying to work a beat AND have to turn a story EVERY day. As I understand the VJ concept, you have time to set up a beat, work your sources and produce 3 to 4 stories a week. I would be none too happy trying to crank hard news every day by myself.
Having said that, I hear that a growing number of stations are moving forward with the VJ concept in their local newsrooms. And they have people interested in filling those positions. I still think you will VJs filling many slots in the coming year alone. Speaking of which, WMC had posted a VJ position last fall. Did it ever get filled?

Lest we forget, one VJ operated in this market for years and worked at several stations here in the market. That would be Tommy Stafford, now calling the mountains of Virgiinia his home.

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3 Comments on “The State of the Union, The State of Local Television News, The State of the VJ Revolution”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Joe,
    What a great observation you made about Nancy Pelosi. I saw the same thing. She had problems with the bright lights, licking her teeth and swallowing hard. I did some checking. Her last name is not Pelosi it is Lagossi. Her father was Bella. Now it all makes sense.
    JUST KIDDING !!!!!!!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    since when does joe birch blog???

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Great comments, Joe…I really enjoy your blog. I saw highlights of the speech, and noticed the speaker’s constant variety of facial expressions, mainly from her mouth. She did seem nervous and uncomfortable at times.

    The press likes to interview her, she doesn’t pull any punches verbally regarding her opponents.


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