Harrington00A reporter’s voice affects the meaning of a report. Reporters communicate the story through tone and emphasis of the key facts.


Articulating will help ensure viewers understand every word.

The main points of the report may not be clear if the reporter does not put emphasis on key words by changing the pitch, tone, or inflection of their voice.

Lowering your voice, or using a downward inflection, when saying a key word stresses certainty and conveys a more serious tone. Raising your voice, or using an upward inflection, when saying a key word conveys doubt, uncertainty or excitement.

Speaking in a monotone voice will lose the audiences’ attention, as there is no variation or excitement portrayed in the report.

Use a conversational, but authoritative voice

Voice coach Ann Utterback recommends broadcasters to speak like they are talking to a good friend. This conversational tone creates a better relationship with the audience because the reporter sounds like he or she is engaging in a personal conversation with the viewer.

Reporters should also speak with a lower pitch to sound more authoritative so audience members feel confident in their reporting abilities and credibility.

However, be careful not to completely abandon your natural voice, because an obnoxious theatrical news voice can distract the viewer from the story.

Vary speaking pace

Talking quickly portrays an excited tone. Talking slowly portrays a more serious tone. ?A reporter’s pace should reflect the moods of a story.
Broadcast reporters must be careful to not talk too quickly that the audience does not understand what the reporter is saying or too slowly as they might sound boring.

Broadcast reporters only have one chance to present their message because the viewer does not always have the option to watch the report again, unlike print where the reader can reread a sentence as many times as they desire.

Example of good use of voice

Reporter Elissa Harrington effectively uses her voice to emphasis certain words to highlight the intensity of the San Bruno gas line explosion in California. (Click frame below to play the video.)

In Harrington’s live shot, she puts emphasis on the location and time of the explosion so it is clear to viewers where the explosion occurred, and whether the explosion affects them.

When she says the authorities are not letting anyone back into the area of the explosion, she raises her voice on the word “anyone.” By emphasizing the word “anyone,” Harrington has made it clear people should not return to the area as it is still unsafe.

She also emphasizes words such as “huge,” “loud,” “giant, and the word “never” in the phrase “things will never be the same,” by slowing her pace of voice and using inflection, giving the viewers a clear understanding of the devastating magnitude of the explosion.

Harrington effectively tells the urgency of the situation when she stresses the word “seconds” when she describes how much time people in the area had to evacuate.

Throughout the live shot Harrington speaks in an authoritative tone by using a lower pitch of voice, establishing herself as a credible source for information.

KelseaHeadKelsea Wasung is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. She is also enrolled in Barrett the Honors College and is expected to graduate with her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in 2013. Kelsea has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge with others. When she graduates she hopes to work as a field reporter, and eventually an anchor with a major network.

Kelsea writes her articles based off questions she has as a college reporter. She analyzes the work of other broadcasters to discover the best techniques they use and also researches broadcast topics of interest.