The news ticker, or crawler as it is sometimes referred to, was first introduced in the United States on the NBC Today Show in 1952. After just a few months, the channel retired the idea. However, it eventually made a comeback. The news ticker was reintroduced in the 1980s on local TV news channels for announcing school closings and severe weather warnings. But, on 11 September 2001, the news ticker became a permanent fixture on TV news channels.
Because there was so much news coming in and not enough time to show all of it, it was better to use the news ticker to show as much news as possible during the crisis. Since then, the use of the news ticker has become very common to the degree that you cannot turn on a news channel without seeing it.
The news ticker was a creative solution to a very pressing need at the time. It is considered an important element of news channel branding under the component of on-screen graphics.
Not only is the news ticker a must have element and solution which helps to serve the news visually, it also allows for all of the graphic elements to fall under the same category of creative solutions for needs that help to show the news the way it is now and the way we used to see it.
Without the news ticker, we would have had very boring and unappealing TV news shows. But are these elements the only way to showcase the news? How many things have we inherited that have become simply traditions? Are we using these elements without thinking if they are still effective for our needs or not?
Today, in the world of social media and the internet, news is transmitted instantly. Thus, is the news ticker still effective? When disaster or crises strike, the first place we turn to is social media, not TV news channels for their news tickers. To answer the questions above, this would give the clear answer “no”. This will create another question as to why TV news is still using the news ticker?
Simply, we have missed the solution. Most likely, no one has thought about it yet. It’s very difficult when trying to change a habit or a tradition that everyone has used for such a long time. It needs courage and an alternative, yet creative, solution to introduce a replacement for this element. We need to think of how we can demolish it and come up with something new, creative, and meet a need.
Here comes the importance of branding. The news ticker is just one example of many things news channels are accustomed to using without thinking about if they are still valid today or have become outdated. By changing our way of thinking in designing and in branding news, we will be able to come up with new creative solutions to sort out some urgent needs which relate to how we show the news in a more appealing and attractive way. This change, or creative solution, will lead to transforming the process that the editorial team uses to make and tell the news. Therefore, we should consider the branding elements and creative side of TV news as the engine that drives the process of change and the spark to turn on a new way of thinking for modern TV news.
As mentioned in previous articles, the technology used by TV news has greatly improved, but this has led us to trying to accomplish too many things. The picture is very different now compared to 10 or 15 years ago. Now, it is time to think differently about how we can use best the available technology before it is too late. This will also open up the doors to develop new technologies to support these new requirements.
The technology developers and providers have invested too much into creating solutions that help to smooth and ease the workflow to ensure fast and efficient systems that are able to deliver our needs. On the other hand, broadcasters are investing too much into buying these technologies and less on research and new concepts or what their audience really wants.
For example, you continue to upgrade your car to the latest model, but you still drive it the same way you drove your 1990s model. The latest model might feel more comfortable, but you are not making the best use of all the new features and technology that are available.
Before we jump to what we should change or replace, we need to first think of what the audience really wants from TV news and how it can be delivered to them in an attractive and appealing way. Prepare for the problems and issues we might face in this process and be ready with plans and concepts for creative solutions to solve them.
Part two of this article will discuss what the audience really wants and what creative solutions are needed to facilitate the necessary change.
Nebras Hameed is the head of creative services at Alarab News Channel. He is an award winning creative/art director with over 20 years of experience working in the TV and broadcasting industry.