Monday, December 15, 2008

Graphic discussion

I've been around news all my life. My parents were religious local news watchers and, for most of the time when I lived at home, we subscribed to a morning and an afternoon paper. My least favorite part of going off to camp was the disconnectedness I felt; no TV and no papers meant I was cut off from current events - even if I had no geopolitical understanding and, therefore, no context to those events.

We were lucky, then, that I got to experience news from several viewpoints. We got broadcasts from New York (where there's always something going on), Philadelphia (and its ruthless press corps) and Scranton (where a local fair was as likely to lead the newscast as anything).

And it wasn't always the news that interested me. The graphics were a big part too; of particular interest were the openings: WPVI's legendary quick-hit video with Al Ham's "Move Closer To Your World"; WNEP, which still uses a different Ham composition; and WCAU's multi-person opening that was used before I moved south.

I suppose it's natural, then, that this curiosity carries through to today.

For some reason, instead of the openings, the thing that catches my eye today is how stations and networks introduce breaking news. So when I stumbled across these two examples, it made for a fascinating contrast.

First, CNN:

It's bold, it's flashy. Three notes and the climax. And it has traditional elements too: notice the strings playing after the other instruments have faded. If you're of a certain age, you'll remember that back when, the sound of a Morse code used to be popular on news broadcasts. They're keeping an eye on the wire, ready to bring you anything of importance that crosses it. (Note that this version doesn't have a voiceover, which is heard in this example.)

Now, onto BBC World:

It's much more stylish, in a European sort of way, with all its half-spheres and curves. The music is far less dramatic and, though urgent in its opening notes, less attention-grabbing.

But such is the difference between the cultures. We're more bold and loud, they're more reserved and stylistic.

So I don't know if it matters a hoot to anyone, just something I found curious: cultural differences as seen in news graphics.

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