I was sitting at my computer this morning, contemplating what I was going to write about, when I realized that my lovely wife was in another room watching the NBC “Today” show on the television.

Due to the fact that I cannot hear as well as I use to and that the TV is a number of rooms away, I could not tell you the content of the news stories headlining today’s news.  As I half listened to the different regulars on that news show, I was struck by one glaring insight…they all told their respective news stories with a sense of urgency or an excited anticipation of what is to come next.  I do not know if this is something new in broadcast journalism, but to check it out, I had my wife turn to ABC “Good Morning” show.  I had to admit that the reporters on that news show told the news in a much more normal tone and cadence.

Now, some of you who read this blog will say that I am off my rocker and am imagining things and that they all sound the same, but I challenge you to sometime listen to different news casts and then tell me, if I am right or not.  Do not listen to the words, but, instead, close your eyes and listen to the volume, the tone quality, the cadence of their speech patterns, and their inflection or modulation.  Try to determine what emotions they are conveying to the listener through their different patterns of speech.

When people are speaking with each other or watching someone talk on the television, we all tend to hear the words through our ears but, most of our sensory input into our brain is one of visual stimulation.  For this reason, we tend to concentrate more on their face and their appearance, than on what they are necessarily saying.  When it comes to how they are speaking and the different qualities of speech being used, we are even less aware of what is going on.  Our brain can recognize the subtle differences and recognize the emotional quality that invades our speech when we are angry, happy, excited, alarmed, scared, or whatever emotion we are experiencing at the time, but, we tend to concentrate only on what is being related, and not so much on the how.

Almost all people listen to the content, whereas, I tend to listen less to the words and more to the formulation and emotional triggers of speech.  This is a learned behavior that I acquired over 15 years as a Hostage Negotiator.  When you are on the phone with someone, often times for hours or even days, you tend to get a form of tunnel vision that makes you concentrate on the speech you hear because you have no visual with the person you’re communicating with, at the time.  You also are trained to concentrate on the emotional part of verbal communication to determine possible changes in mood which ultimately affects behavior.  For example, is the person becoming more troubled and thusly increasing the risk level, or is the person becoming less agitated and appearing to calm down.

So, I again ask the question…is there a greater sense of gloom and doom emotion in broadcast news programs today, than yesterday.  You be the judge and you tell me what you think.

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