TV news question

Aaron Gerow gerowaaron at
Thu Feb 3 09:28:57 EST 2005

This is an issue I've wondered about for some time. I too asked myself 
why news companies did not use not only CG recreations, but even 
graphics to show a list of items. Instead, they'd have those famous 
cards where the presenter peels off of the covers one by one.

I too thought this could be a budget issue, but I now think that is not 
likely the case. While I'd like to hear some inside info from an 
insider, clearly graphics technology is so widespread and easy to use 
these days that it would not be hard at all for any Japanese news 
company to use it. Also, look at the fact that all the variety shows 
use an inordinate amount of graphics (especially telop--the titles on 
screen--some animated in complex ways), and you can see that networks 
can do it if they want to on the news. Also, when you look at some of 
the models they use on the news, clearly some are so big and detailed 
that you would think it would take much more time to make these than 
using today's CG technology. (I should add that the TV news is using a 
lot more telop than it used to, especially for transcribing dialogue in 
taped reports.)

My feeling is that there are two reasons for this use of non-CG 
technology. First is simply that it's become a convention and both 
producers and viewers are used to it. Sometimes shokunin ishiki is hard 
to change. But I think the biggest reason is this: Japanese TV news is 
far more "human-centered" than say American TV news. While NHK is more 
of an exception (and thus NHK uses graphics more often--perhaps that 
connects to NHK's pretension as serious, objective news), the anchors 
in commercial TV news (minpo) are less engaged in a one-on-one with the 
audience from an abstract space, with a blank blue screen or set in the 
back, than working in a group in a studio set that is often structured 
as home-like (News Station was particularly like this). Anchors don't 
just read the news, they talk about it, and one will frequently find 
the anchors discussing that news among themselves and a guest. In this 
kind of repartee, CG I think could be seen as destroying the 
interaction. It is much more human and material, one could say, to have 
these flip cards which people can point to and comment on than CG in 
some abstract space. Of course, there are many styles in Japanese TV 
news--the really early morning news or the satellite TV news usually 
only has one announcer and lots of CG--but the primary shows--the 6pm 
and late evening shows--have long maintained this homey, 
conversational, material, and perhaps "human" style. CG don't work as 
well in that.

Anyway, that's one of my impressions.

Aaron Gerow
KineJapan owner

Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University

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