On-Air Talent Takes on Prompter Duty at WTTG-TV

WASHINGTON: WTTG-TV’s on-air talent will soon be running their own prompters. Traditional prompter technician positions are being eliminated to save money, according to The Washington Post. The station intends to train its newscasters to run prompters with “a series of hand levers and foot pedals.” WTTG is the Fox O&O in the Washington, D.C. market. The Post said the strategy was part of a corporate directive, “corporate” referring to News Corp. It noted that viewers might see “some awkward cranking and pumping beneath the anchor desk.”

Self-prompting is more common in smaller markets among stations with limited resources, but not so much for larger news operations that move rapidly and dynamically among tape, live remotes and breaking news. Scripts are frequently changed on the fly and prompter input must be changed accordingly. One WTTG staffer was skeptical about the arrangement, saying it gave newscasters less time to do the work behind actual reporting.

However, WTTG General Manager Duffy Dyer said Fox’s O&O in Austin, Texas was self-prompting already with no problems, and that some newscasters had come to prefer having control over the script-rolling device.

There was no indication a to when WTTG anchors would start prompting themselves. “This Just In--I’ll Now Work My Own Prompter,” is at washingtonpost.com.