Good evening, I am the news

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Nobody ever thinks that television newsreaders will get into trouble, so when they do, who can they turn to? To Auntie News, of course, our very own TV Newsreader Agony Aunt! All yours, Auntie ...

What should a newsreader do when he or she is reading out an item about himself or herself? For instance, if Trevor McDonald is appointed to head a unit dedicated to improving the standard of English, or Julia Somerville is questioned about the photographs she sends to Boots the Chemist, how should he or she deal with the item reporting that fact?

In other words, should Trevor McDonald, all straight-faced, say: "The ITN newsreader Trevor McDonald was today appointed to be head of a unit dedicated to improving the standard of English," and thus talk about himself in the third person, which seems oddly po-faced? Or should he simply say, "I was today appointed to be head of a new unit dedicated to improving the standard of spoken English," which seems a little too much on the chatty side? And which might be confusing to people who are watching the news for the first time and have no idea who Trevor McDonald is?

Should he perhaps have tried to mix the two approaches, conventional and personal, as in: "The ITN newsreader Trevor McDonald was today appointed to be head of a unit dedicated to improving the standard of English. When he was asked to comment on his appointment, I said that I was very happy to be involved with the venture"?

Or would this lead to further complications, as in: "The ITN newsreader Trevor McDonald was today appointed to be head of a unit dedicated to improving the standard of English. When he was asked to comment on his appointment, I said that I was very happy to be involved with the venture. Later, facing criticism that a head of a new unit dedicated to improving English shouldn't change subject in mid-sentence, I said that Trevor McDonald was very sorry"? Should that last sentence end "I said that I was very sorry. Incidentally, I am Trevor McDonald"?

And if I am Julia Somerville, should I say: "Today I was reported as being hugely indignant with police reports that I am involved in child pornography, and the reports are spot on - I am steaming with indignation!"

Auntie News writes: This is a difficult situation. Luckily, there is a plain remedy to hand. You get the other newsreader to read out the item!

That is the whole point of having two newsreaders in a news studio. It isn't to even out gender or race representation, although you might think so from looking at our screens - the whole point is that if anything should happen to one of the readers, the other one can take over. If one of them falls ill, or something, and is incapable of reading, the other one can carry on immediately.

Well, I think appearing in a news item comes under this heading. If one of the newsreaders is mentioned in an item, the other should read it.

Yes, but that in turn raises the question of how the other newsreader behaves during the reading of the item.

I mean, it's all very well saying you just read out the item, but if you were Trevor McDonald and someone next to you was telling the nation that you had just been appointed head of a new language unit, you can't pretend you're not listening, can you? Do you look pleased? Or indifferent? Do you wave your hand in recognition at your adoring viewers? Should the other newsreader ask for an immediate interview?

And if you are Julia Somerville, and the item about your bathtime photos is big enough to make the news, then shouldn't you be asked on air for your reactions? After all, it isn't often that a news item involves someone who is actually present in the studio when it is being read out, is it?

Or is Julia Somerville the newsreader a different person, in an existentialist sense, from Julia Somerville the subject of a news item? Isn't it rather Brechtian for a person to read out a news item about herself as if she were someone else?

Auntie News writes: No. I think it's more Stoppardian than anything.

If you are one of a pair of newsreaders and the other one collapses, and you have to do it all yourself, should you mention their collapse as a news item?

Auntie News writes: No. Only if the other one dies on air. It's only a newsreader, after all.

What can you do to prevent people at Boots the Chemist reporting your innocent bathtime photos to the police?

Auntie News writes: Easy. Always wear a mask in the bath.

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