The “standup” is a bit of a misnomer. Those of us who make appearances in th’ TV news stand in front of cameras, and intone. It’s true. But the standup isn’t just about standing there and talking out loud to a camera lens. Stand in a relaxed, flatfooted stance, and the material itself becomes flatfooted. As a man who has delivered an abundance of flatfooted material on television, I know this.
Each time I appear on camera, I continually have to remind myself: I’m not standing here, chatting amiably with my friends. I am here to deliver. I am here (as I learned from Budd McEntee) to sell the story. If I seem uninterested in the story, then I cannot expect the audience to be interested. If the audience isn’t interested, they’ll find another newscast. If I’m not selling the story, I’m hurting the ultimate goal of my employer, which is to keep eyeballs glued to our TV channel.
I have to remind myself of this each time I appear on camera, because this thinking is unnatural to me. My persona, as I perceive it, is more relaxed. I’m “a Type C” personality, as McEntee once called me, with a mix of humor and venom. I don’t dispute that.
My self-reminder starts with positioning. Many years ago, I heard a photog refer to “the action stance.” He meant it disparagingly. But as a guy who needed to muster all the action I could into my on-camera appearances (not to mention, coherence), I adopted the action stance as a way to make me embody the excitable on-camera field reporter.
The body is angled slightly. One foot is forward. The hand on the forward part of the body holds the mic. The knees are slightly bent. The footwork is especially important. The balls of the feet bear much of the weight. Frequently, at least one heel is off the ground completely.
The raised eyebrow is optional.
When the reporter is properly framed, you don’t see the action stance on camera. But it’s viewable when TV reporters are lined up, covering the same story (walk past Central Ave. and ML King Jr. Dr. at noon whenever there’s a big trial at the Fulton County Courthouse).
I’m a reporter. I also play one on TV.