Death to the Noddies!

News from the UK that two TV news channels will stop bothering with the “noddies”:

You do a little news interview and, when it’s over, you then do a ‘two-shot’. The interviewee mouths a few silent nothings. The interviewer nods in mock interest (and total boredom). The camera rolls for a couple of minutes in case slivers of this weary mime are visually needed to leaven the chat.

Fakery? Channel Five News has announced it is ditching the device, with Sky only a second behind. It’s either a stirring victory for truth and honesty — or (nod-nod-wink-wink) a splendidly cynical chance to get rid of a television reporter’s most demeaning, least favourite chores.

That story says noddies are to “leaven” the chat — implying they’re to provide variety. However the real reason is to hide the edits. Editing video means there’s a “jump” as the person’s head suddenly changes position, and supposedly that’s distracting as well as revealing.

I read this change in two ways, both based on the fact that 21st Century viewers have a greater understanding of the newsmaking process.

  1. In news, it’s more honest to reveal that edits have been made — and that’s how Channel Five is spinning it.
  2. We’re used to seeing “jump cuts” in movies and music videos, so they’re not as “distracting” as they used to be.

Still, whichever is true, TV news suddenly becomes cheaper to make. I wonder who’ll be the first to follow in Australia. My bet is Sky News Australia.

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