A news presenter – also known as a newsreader, newscaster (short for "news broadcaster"), anchorman or anchorwoman, news anchor or simply an anchor – is a person who presents news during a news program on television, on the radio or on the Internet. They may also be a working journalist, assisting in the collection of news material and may, in addition, provide commentary during the programme. News presenters most often work from a television studio or radio studio, but may also present the news from remote locations in the field related to a particular major news event.
The role of the news presenter developed over time. Classically, the presenter would read the news from news "copy" which they may or may not have helped write with a producer or news writer. This was often taken almost directly from wire services and then rewritten. Prior to the television era, radio-news broadcasts often mixed news with opinion and each presenter strove for a distinctive style. These presenters were referred to as commentators. The last major figure to present commentary in a news broadcast format in the United States was Paul Harvey.
With the development of the 24-hour news cycle and dedicated cable news channels, the role of the anchor evolved. Anchors would still present material prepared for a news program, but they also interviewed experts about various aspects of breaking news stories, and themselves provided improvised commentary, all under the supervision of the producer, who coordinates the broadcast by communicating with the anchor through an earphone. Many anchors also write or edit news for their programs. The mix of "straight" news and commentary varies depending on the type of programme and the skills and knowledge of the particular anchor.
Etymology of "anchor"
The term "anchor man" was used to describe Walter Cronkite's role at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The widespread claim that news anchors were called "cronkiters" in Swedish has been debunked by linguist Ben Zimmer.
According to Zimmer and others, anchor was commonly used by 1952 to describe the most prominent member of a panel of reporters or experts. For example, in 1948 "anchor man" was used in the game show "Who Said That?" to refer to John Cameron Swayze, who was a permanent panel member of the show, in what may be the first usage of this term on television. In the original format of Meet The Press, Lawrence E. Spivak, the only permanent member of a panel of four reporters, anchored the panel. Later, the term was applied to hosts of special events coverage and, still later, news presenters.
- Dunning, John. "The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio."
- Zimmer, Ben (2009-07-18). "Was CronkiteReally the First "Anchorman"? How we came to use the term". Slate.
- Walter Cronkite dies, a July 17, 2009 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Zimmer, Ben. "The Mystery of "Cronkiters" : Word Routes : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus". Visualthesaurus.com. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
- "If Cronkite wasn’t TV’s first anchorman, who was?". Futurity. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
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