Let me ask you a question. What is it about Britney Spears that transformed her into a legendary superstar?

Is it her voice?


Is it her catchy, heavily produced pop tracks?


Is it because she’s hot and jumps off the TV screen in every one of her music videos and TV appearances?

Um. Bingo!

It is my contention that Britney Spears became every man’s sexual ideal – and every teenage girl’s image ideal – for one primary reason – her appeal is heavily marketed via close-ups.

We are bombarded with tight, intimate shots like these all day long on every platform. On our smartphone. On TV. In magazines. Billboards. Everywhere we look we encounter these bigger than life images jumping out at us:

And then, we turn on the local TV news… and this is what we see:

Now don’t get me wrong. Tricia Macke of WXIX-TV in Cincinnati is one of my choices for best news personalities of 2018. But there’s a problem here.   Can you better identify the problem now when I put the photos side-by-side?

Who first commands your attention? Britney or Tricia? Who do you have an immediate reaction to – whatever that reaction may be? Who makes you wanna say, “Gimme More?” I realize that this is an argument over extremes. Britney is very close-up. Tricia is very far away. Yet television is a medium of extremes. If you don’t deliberately choose a side, you systematically settle for something in the middle. And that’s the mistake. You must pick a polarity. You must embrace the art of the extreme. Choosing the wrong extreme relegates your newscast to mediocrity. And that’s the state of local news as we know it today.

Many Walk-Away Joes (aka news consultants) do not understand the concept – the connection a talent makes with his audience on a close-up – because it can’t be translated into raw data. Joe wants your talent standing next to monitors, full anchor frontage, so viewers can’t even see the whites in their eyes. They call it “research”.

Do you trust anyone when you can’t see the whites in their eyes?

No. Cops hide their eyes with mirrored glasses because eye contact creates intimacy – and they don’t  want intimacy – they want intimidation. But hey, since your station is paying Joe those obscene fees, he must know what he’s talking about, right? Consequently most news directors do what Joe tells them – no questions asked.  Well, I’m asking the question.

Do you recognize the power of a closeup?

The Catholic Church doesn’t. (See there, that was an extreme transition!) Have you seen Catholic TV Network? It’s the oldest Catholic-based network founded in 1955 in Boston. Here’s a :30 second look:

Its programming looks identical to a local TV news broadcast produced by many Walk-Away Joes. That producer and director, and Joe as well, should be immediately excommunicated. No questions asked.

Now compare that with Hillsong Channel Now. It’s an Australian Christian-based, Evangelical and Pentecostal broadcast TV network that Justin Bieber is really into.

I don’t subscribe to the message of either this network or of Catholic TV, but what’s clear here is that Hillsong knows how to sell its message. Through intense music, intense lighting and intense imaging, they’ve transformed their message into a feeling – an emotion. The emotion is right there dripping off the screen – close-up – in your face:

An awesome television production. Awesome! The images, the passion and the power just keep coming. The performers sell it. The music sells it. The  lighting and staging sell it. And the audience was clearly buying. My favorite moment is at 3:21 heading into the guitar riff during that killer zoom out when the performers are jumping up and down on stage – so subtle – so cool. Coming out of a control room after producing something like this makes you feel as though you can fly. When I would leave a control room after producing an awesome morning show where everything comes together like this so organically, I didn’t need to look at the ratings the next morning. I already knew we won.

Bottom line – here’s the one universal question you need to answer for yourself – when it comes to extremes – and when it comes to your newscast:

Which church do you belong to?

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