ndp makes an excellent point about needing brand durability. You can't claim to have a news programme that's as reliable as the rising and the setting of the sun if the image of the programme changes frequently. Such inconstancy makes the programme look fickle.
DAS makes a further excellent point about the need to roll out branding changes in one swoop, rather than in a staged manner, for maximum effect.
But why can't the BBC news programs be more different? Evolution in news programming isn't just about what colour the wall is and what sort of music you use to introduce the program. In other words: an image is important, but it isn't everything.
The last great innovation in television news was the introduction of the satellite, which enabled live broadcasts from anywhere in the world. The effects of this registered in the 1970s and 80s.
It's 2004 and whether the newsreader is seated in ITV's Theatre of News or BBC's Computer-Generated Newsroom we're still seeing the same old thing: a newsreader at a desk with over-the-shoulder graphics reading short pieces or introducing reporters on-location or in the studio somewhere else.
Not to say that this approach isn't good, but that it fails to make better use of current technologies.
If I were to rebrand BBC's bulletins, for example, for the "Information Age" (a tired term, I know, but I have nothing newer to use), it would look something like this:
Set: a simple black desk (table top only, no clutter, maybe a laptop for each presenter) with a transparent glass backdrop with a large world map etched into it; the real BBC newsroom behind it.
Music: instrumental fanfare...this is, after all, the BBC NEWS, not Top of The Pops nor Newsround. It's important to remember that the audience will come back crawling as long as the news is informative, accurate and timely...the image itself is secondary to these qualities.
A Digression: I honestly don't know why some news producers act like they have to keep with all of the current styles and fads or else they'll lose mass market appeal. In my opinion, these producers don't seem to understand one critical aspect of the news business: people consume news products because they lack information that the news broadcasters have. And, people don't watch the news to see the latest styles or find a nice hairdo that they might try out (they have other shows for that). They watch the news to get the info they want to cure their ignorance. Based on this premise, the focus of news producers should be delivering a news product that is informative, accurate and timely, because the highest quality that can be offered will win. And as regards the impact of tabloid news: the BBC should simply ignore it; dabbling in tabloid products would ruin the BBC's long-standing brand reputation for quality.
Titles: up-to-date computer graphics, something class and timeless...maybe someone could think of something resembling the traditional BBC mirror globe...that's a symbol that's both part of the BBC's heritage and could be used in successive titles in a more updated way. Now imagine the titles running down the entire contents of the programme over about two minutes. A sort of "miniature news programme" for people who'd rather get a quick summary and then switch over to another network (hopefully a BBC one), and also a good way to give viewers the full menu of what to expect over the following half hour. It might even be possible to broadcast these "titular summaries"
on more than one BBC network between programs instead of promos.
The Program Itself: I would not begin in the studio. If at all possible, I'd like the program to begin on-location with the reporter who is at the scene of the top story. Then they could hand back to the studio where a follow-up report could be made (say, for example, the program opens with a reporter in Jerusalem, talking about a major event there, then he/she hands back to London, where a feature providing background information and context for the top story is presented). Then, without transiting via a newsreader at a desk, it would be on to the next reporter on-location, or the next prepared report.
The only time that a newsreader seated at a desk would be required would be for stories for which no filed report was made. On normal days this would encompass stories that were deemed worthy of the bulletin, but for which no report was assembled, nor was any reporter sent on-location for a live feed.
The other time that a presenter would be required is, obviously, breaking news/special events.
To address any concerns about a lack of continuity, we could take advantage of one of the marvellous properties of widescreen television: room for a sidebar, on which a select contents could be presented. For example, the story just before, the current feature, and two or three of the upcoming features (preferably with the times they will be presented, e.g., :06 minutes past the hour).
In any case, using this sort of format the news itself would be "the star", rather than the newsreader.