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Bellowing boorish broadcasters

By Ian Nance - posted Tuesday, 28 August 2012


If you become excited when talking to someone, perhaps you might speak a little faster, a little more loudly, but would you shout at them? Not if you want your conversation to be accepted credibly. Not if you do not want to shock them, or disturb them.

But shouting is almost entirely what happens in media sports commentary at present, as boorish broadcasters act out their belief that the louder their commentary is screamed, the more exciting it is!

If you caught any of the Olympics coverage, you will have been aware of it in many events, although I note that the equestrian and sailing challenges tended to let the pictures tell the story, with most description filling in background information which after all is one of the functions of commentary.

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Despite its not being conversation, the raucous ranters seem to feel that their obligation in their one-way communication of an event is for shouting to become louder as the contest climaxes, in some kind of vain attempt to create excitement and enthusiasm.

No! Emphatically... no!

There is a huge difference between excitement, and shouting.

Yelling is not the best way to convey excitement; it is more a sign of losing control, of indicating alarm or warning, of showing anger.

Shouting is also insulting to the listeners or viewers because it assumes that they cannot take in the overall scene for themselves and heighten their own excitement. It presumes they have to be led into accepting whatever level of thrill the commentator wishes to impose on them.

Shouting or yelling has become so formulaic in radio and television sports broadcasting that it has become almost a speech style in its own right, in a similar way to the nasal accents adopted by race callers.

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This style even permeates the voice reads of post-event scripts, as though the audience needs that kind of aural prompt to be able to understand the item. Sadly, producers have fallen for this habit also, and fail to assert control of the delivery to ensure that the message, not the method, dominates.

The sound and the form of speech is a major factor in rendering any language.

Take the contrast between the reading of an idyllic poem, and the declamatory exhortation of a nationalistic call to arms. The meaning of the message is very clear, no matter in what language it is delivered; many of us would remember the aural effect of Hitler's oratory, even if we understood no German.

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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