Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Anchoring Television News

Posted on | May 8, 2018 | No Comments

“The news is privileged discourse, invested with a special relation to the Real.” [1]

The news anchor is a finely tuned instrument for television performance. Unlike print journalism where disembodied letters of information suggest an objective third person, the televisual anchor is intimate and direct.

The news broadcaster leads the viewer through the news while “anchoring” their attention to specific topics. The anchor anchors meaning. The anchor fixes meaning, in the sense that connections are made and reinforced through the authority and credibility of the speaker. The anchor emphasizes what’s important, and what is to be dismissed or ignored.[2]

He or she, or both, believe in the news, and that makes all the difference. Groomed and conditioned into the voice of authority, the anchor trades in the currency of assurance and credibility.

As the anchor is a guest into the homes and offices of the viewer, they must be trustworthy, well groomed, appropriately dressed, and present the sufficient manners appropriate to such an intrusion. But as they make themselves at home, anchors engage in light banter, laughing and joking with each other, including the viewer, albeit vicariously, in their community.

The anchor pulls the viewer into the hyper-real globe of television news and establishes the link between the world and its representation. As surveillance of the world is one of the key aspects of mass media, the viewer is transported around the world, peeking in on floods and coups, hurricanes and elections, earthquakes and ethnic cleansings. The viewer is included in the sphere of politics and economics.

When the anchor reads the news, computer graphics are often used. In particular, charts give a dynamic, historical validity to the news. A graph of a company’s share price tracked over the last month gives an empirical rhetoric to the argument. A three-month chart of a company’s stock price, for example, reconfirms the anchor’s argument about the relative strength or weakness of that company.

Or now, the anchor can be designed as a computer graphic. Examining the news anchor from the perspective of AI is useful because it raises the question, “What makes the news anchor?” Addressing this question allows for the denotative analysis of the news anchor and the reconstruction of the anchor with digital components, like constructing an avatar in a metaverse environment.

This post introduced some aspects of a formalistic analysis of television news. By examining the “anchor” of TV news, it suggests that television news has rhetorical dimensions that influences business decisions, government policies, and personal world-views.



[1] Morse, M. (1986) “The Television News Personality and Credibility: Reflections on the News in Transition. In Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture. (ed.) Tania Modleski.
[2] A ship uses a heavy object called an anchor that is attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the bottom of a lake or sea. Metaporically, the anchor anchors meaning.

Citation APA (7th Edition)

Pennings, A.J. (2018, May 8). Anchoring Television News.




AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, Ph.D. is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Technology and Society, State University of New York, Korea. From 2002-2012 was on the faculty of New York University. Previously, he taught at Hannam University in South Korea, Marist College in New York, Victoria University in New Zealand, and St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas where he keeps his American home. He spent 9 years as a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


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    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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