21 March 2011

How effective are Sky Newswall presentations?

Regular readers will know that I've never been much impressed by the way in which BBC television news and current affairs programmes like Newsnight have become more and more dependent on PowerPoint-style presentations by their reporters (see below).

Unlike the BBC, Sky News doesn't have its reporters standing on one side of a screen but directly in front of their cinemascope-style 'newswall'.

Watching some of their reports on Libya, I began to think that it worked rather better than the BBC's reporter-standing-next-to-a-screen approach. But there are two reasons why I don't feel able to decide between them just yet.

The first is that I don't see it as often as BBC News and therefore need to watch more Sky News before being able to come to a definite conclusion.

The second is that the above clip uses a map, and maps can be a very helpful visual aid for audiences (see Lend Me Your Ears, pp. 152-3).

In fact, the above clip from Sky News reminded me of a brilliant lecture I attended about twenty years ago. The subject was the Soviet economy and the audience was made up of delegates on a general management course. The lecturer's only visual aid was a gigantic map of Europe and Asia that was pinned on the wall behind him. Rather than using a wobbly laser pointer, his pointer of choice was a billiards cue with which he punctuated his lecture by urgent dashes from side to side to point at the places he was talking about.

The Sky News presenter in the above clip doesn't dash from side to side - and was certainly a lot less worried that I was when a graphic of a jet fighter plane zoomed in and nearly hit him (1.05 minutes in).

But the question is: how effective are 'newswall' presentations when they're showing something other than a map?

I'm planning to watch Sky News more closely in the weeks ahead and will report back in due course. Meanwhile, I'd be interested to know what other viewers think about Sky's 'newswall' - and whether they think it's an improvement on the way BBC News replicates more conventional PowerPoint presentations.

1 comment:

Cordelia Ditton (DillyTalk) said...

A bit tricksy?
I still think that nothing's ever beaten Robert Dougall's newsreading...but then, I'm showing my age here!