10 Actions a TV News Anchor Should Avoid

A photo of a TV news anchor getting angry while on camera.
The reputation a news anchor has built can be ruined in seconds by making one of 10 common mistakes. Photo © Image Source / Getty Images

A TV news anchor has to have many special characteristics in order to be successful with viewers. There's charisma, credibility, and friendliness to name a few.

Not every newscast is going to go perfectly. Any show or broadcast that is live always has a chance for error. With all the possible things that could go wrong, there are 10 on-air mistakes news anchors can make that will hurt their relationship with viewers, cause the station's ratings to nosedive, and possibly cost them their career.

Read Scripts Cold

Some news anchors are meticulous in their preparation for a broadcast, approving every script, making changes and rehearsing to make sure they pronounce every word correctly and not get tongue-tied. Other anchors drink coffee all day and wing it.

While some very experienced anchors are able to wing it, others are risking their professional reputation if they appear to not understand what they are reporting. Many of the news producers who write scripts are young and inexperienced. Anchors that do not rehearse or prepare are putting their careers in the hands of someone else.

Assume You're Not on the Air

Many people fall victim to assumptions. News anchors or no different. It is easy to become complacent when routines are established. Anchors become used to their crews not making mistakes and having everything go completely as planned.

It is risky to become complacent and assume that everything is going as planned. Even the most experienced and professional person can make a mistake. Equipment may not work properly, or people's life circumstances may have them distracted.

It might be considered a good practice to always be professional when sitting in the chair, or when around cameras and microphones.


Every news anchor, at some point, will be placed in a high-pressure situation while sitting at the anchor desk. Perhaps it's during an unscripted breaking news event.

There might be technical issues that require the people in the control room to ask the anchor to fill some time while they work out the problem.

Improvising comes easy to some anchors, but it's a struggle for others. Regardless, an anchor has to maintain a sense of calm and control and not look confused, overwhelmed or fearful.


There are days that any job is boring. Anchoring the news is no different. One of the keys to being a good anchor is to have a high-energy level on the air. An anchor has to look interested in the information and appear eager to tell viewers about it.

Allow Anger to Enter the Broadcast

Even at the network level, there are newscasts that implode for one reason or another. Controlling one's emotions is an essential ability for a successful news anchor.

While anchors should demonstrate their humanity, anger is an emotion that doesn't have a place while providing information for viewers. There is a difference in being passionate about a topic and allowing it to anger you.

Smile or Laugh at Inappropriate Times

Smiling or even laughing is can be great when covering the news—there is. During serious news, it is imperative to be situationally aware and have maintained your bearing. For example, a news anchor could be covering a mass casualty event, while off-camera, someone walks in the studio, trips, and knocks over a bunch of props.

While it might be funny to watch someone fall into the props, this is not what the viewers at home see. Viewers see someone laughing while covering a serious event. This demonstrates unprofessionalism to viewers and has detrimental effects on the network.

Show Bias

Showing bias when reporting causes viewers to be influenced. For some outlets, this is the effect desired. Reputable news outlets try to be as unbiased as they can when reporting. Many people watch the news with the assumption that they are listening to educated, experienced people interested in collecting and passing along information.

Modern society is rife with biased reporting. Some networks, stations and shows use propaganda methods to influence viewers toward the views of the network owners or employees.

Traditional, non-biased reporting allows viewers to make up their own minds while not spreading misinformation. This keeps the journalists and reporters involved from causing confusion or furthering the divisions that exist between people already.

Endorse a Product

Leave the advertising to the advertisements. As a news anchor, you should be reporting on news, not your favorite products (unless it is part of a story).

Your credibility begins to spiral downward if you use airtime to pitch for products and services. This is not to say that as a news anchor, you cannot endorse a product or service in the proper manner, such as an advertisement. It is simply bad etiquette to do so outside of ads, during a reporting session.

Show Disrespect for a Co-Anchor

It can be tough to get along with everyone. Members of some news teams are genuine friends off the air. Other news teams have to fake the camaraderie while broadcasting. Every news team member should demonstrate professionalism toward each other, no matter what their personal opinions might be.

Viewers will feel uncomfortable watching a station's newscast if they feel as though there are problems with the anchor team. An anchor taking an on-air dig at a colleague would be a disaster. While it's sometimes fun to see anchors poke fun at each other, the lines into disrespect should not be crossed.

Insult a Guest

There are times when even a mild-mannered news anchor has to ask tough questions of a guest while on the air. It should never get to the point where an anchor begins to insult a guest.

A news anchor must craft questions carefully so that while probing for information it never seems as though the anchor is belittling the person. This may cause the interviewee to become evasive or become angry. It takes practice, a cool head and a realization that a host should always be welcoming to even the most difficult interview subject.