Friday, May 22, 2009

What's in the News?

This week I had the good fortune to visit one of San Fran's premier news stations in conjunction with a field trip with Henry's class. Before the details of the field trip, I've gotta confess that it was probably the most ideal field trip chaperoning experience in my life. Why? Cause I didn't have to do much chaperoning. I only attended the trip because Henry was getting his braces on that morning, so I needed to drive him to meet up with his class. The rest of the class was taking the public bus from the school to the station. Me? I got to ride in the comfort of my car (20 minutes from home to station), experience the engrossing world of a broadcast news station, and then return home in my car (20 minutes). The rest of class took the public bus (1 hour and 20 minutes), experienced the entralling wonders of broadcast news, and then returned to school using public transportation (1 hour and 40 minutes - including an unexpectedly long walk when they discovered that the place the bus dropped them off was not, in fact, the same place it would pick them up). Perfect for me, too bad for them.

The trip was cool beans indeed. Got to tour the buzzing newsroom where all manner of local Bay area news is digested and prioritized for interest. Lots of nifty police scanners going, TVs and monitors of all shapes and sizes capturing so many images of so many things it made me kinda dizzy to walk around. We all got to witness the actual airing of the 11:00 a.m. news right there in the studio. Did you know that the cameras are all remote operated from outside the studio? I didn't and it shocked the daylights out of me when the one in front of me started to move of its own accord. Just like a little starwars r2d2. Crazy. The stage manager says that they have kill-switches on the base. According to him there have been at least several times when they go nutso of their own accord and just start roaming around the studio at top speed wrecking in to things. A little eerie if you ask me.

The kids actually got to be on the local news - - we had no idea that this was going to happen. A friend says that she recorded it -- will have to get the clip one of these days. And finally we got to poke around the studio, play with the green screen and talk to the set manager, the weather man and the two anchors.

During the questioning, there was a lot of interest in the clothes and make-up worn by the two female anchors. It was especially interesting to hear that while the station tells them what they want them to wear, they do not have a corresponding budget for purchasing said clothes. What a rip. They also do not get a make-up artist or hair stylist. They are on their own. So much for what you see in the movies. Another myth busted.

They all said that the switch to HD was brutal. HD shows every little nook and cranny of your complexion - - so make-up techniques had to change and color palates had to be adjusted. Which they also had to pay for. New tones of clothes, new kinds of make-up - - all for the beauty of the news. It also turns out that a few other things needed to be adjusted to meet the demands of the local SF news broadcast.

The older female anchor has been on the news since 1986. That's a good long time. Certainly long enough that in order to preserve her seat at the news table, as well as to combat the complexion-under-a-microscope-brutality of the HD lens -- something else needed to be preserved as well. That would be her face.

When you see her from afar (or on the news), she looks dewy faced and youngish. When you get up closer - - you see a woman who's had some pretty serious work done including face lift, lip plumping, eye work, botox and copious layers of make-up. I'm no expert on spotting plastic surgery - but if she hasn't had it I'll eat my hat and munch on yours too. Dismally, this is what she must do to stay on the news in our youth obsessed society (more so for woman than men, although this is changing). In the absence of this, she would be off the air and replaced by the fresher, au courant, hip asian co-anchor that sits beside her (and has likely got her eye on the chair to her left).

Post-field trip, my erudite observations can be summarized as follows: Female newscasters do not make as much money in local markets than they do in national markets. Both anchors stated that they were in it for "the love of the news". This is translated effectively in to "we make scratch". The money that they do make is diminished by the need to purchase wardrobe, make-up and on-going hair maintenance. The money is further reduced by the cost of maintaining a never ending fresh-faced screen presence and subsequent financial support of plastic surgeons. The female newscaster's worth is not so much determined on how well she can research and present the news, but how she looks while she is doing it. This applies even if she can't keep the drool from escaping her filler-injected-plump lips, replete with a botox chaser, that makes it so she can't even pucker up to drink from a straw. Oh and last, and the cameras in the news room are remote controlled. Was there something else I was supposed to be learning while I was there???

1 comment:

Molly said...

Do you have on seriously high heels in this picture because you could actually pass for tall in this picture! Now, I am all for the magic of the television camera, but this would be ridiculous!!