TV News Gets Hip to the Hip Talk

| January 17, 2003 Issue

Picture a thugged-out Wolf Blitzer rapping off news stories like Snoop Dogg, then switch to Christiane Amanpour live from Israel, “Yo, yo, yo, things are getting hectic on the West Bank.” It’s unexpected, but not unbelievable, writes Karen Lurie in In an attempt to reach out to younger audiences, TV news agencies like CNN are incorporating hip hop slang into their coverage. Phrases like, bling bling have already made it into CNN’s news crawl. The theory is that young people will see these buzz words and say, “Wow, this speaks to me.”

There also have been attempts to make the news sound more talkie. The idea is to bring the newscaster down off of the pulpit and into workaday Joe’s living room to talk current events over cold beers. Shepard Smith of Fox News calls it “people speak.” This abbreviated way of speaking also shaves a few seconds off of a story, but what are a few seconds when you’ve got a 24-hour news broadcast? Regardless who news agencies are trying to reach with their news coverage, the strength of the story is still the biggest factor when determining how many will tune in. And no matter how you tell it, when the story is gone, so is the audience.

-Nick Garafola

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