Despite their supposed neutrality, newsreaders invariably add little gestures, snorts and asides after news items to seem human and more natural. There’s Happy Face, Sad Face, Lifted Eyebrow Quizzical Look (Sue Lawley used to do this all the time on the BBC 9 O’Clock News), Sombre Serious Look Into Camera, and, most irritating, the Little Chatty Flirty Ho-Ho-Ho with the Co-Hosts. These constitute powerful messages which
model a response for the audience.
I have noticed repeatedly that the newsreader responses to climate change stories are often inappropriate or actively undermine the story. This morning there was a good example on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme. After a significant discussion on a demand from business leaders for stronger government action on climate change, the presenter said – ‘and now- ho-ho over to the weather’ The weather reader then said ‘well, we’re certainly in for some ho-ho global warming today’. The connotation of global warming with pleasant summer weather is especially dangerous in Britain where many people anticipate an idyllic future of ‘Costa-del-Britain’.
Weathercasters do not undermine other serious news items in this way. They do not chuckle and say “explosive storms across the north east so expect some big bangs” or “and there’s another big pile up of fronts on its way’ or “gosh, weather’s going to be a bit of a holocaust today”. If they did they would be sacked on the spot.
I will make a note of further sightings. Please add yours.