“We have some breaking news,” says Jeannette Reyes, a morning anchor at FOX 5 DC in a viral video. “There was an explosion at the diaper station.”
Reyes went viral Monday for a video where she and her husband, ABC7 news anchor Robert Burton, report on their baby’s antics using classic TV-anchor voices. Reyes, better known as @msnewslady on TikTok, started posting on TikTok in spring of 2020, where she uploaded her first skit using the anchor voice.
@msnewsladyWhen both of your parents are anchors♬ Breaking News – Breaking News
Reyes, who is Afro-Latina, told Washingtonian last September that the anchor voice skit was inspired by her experiences with code-switching. Reyes started posting more videos where she uses the anchor voice to report on other mundane scenarios—from scam calls to her bedtime routine—but the recent “Baby News Network” video is one of the most popular from her “anchor voice” collection. Other news anchors on TikTok have done similar videos: Indianapolis anchor Kayla Sullivan’s videos where she reports on her toddler’s antics started going viral back in January.
As of this story’s publishing, the video has 4.3 million views and 1.1 million likes on TikTok and 10.4 million views on Twitter. We spoke to Reyes about the viral video, her new baby, Isabella, and what it takes to train an anchor voice.
Washingtonian: How did you come up with the idea for Baby News Network?
Jeannette Reyes: It’s funny because we’ve been doing the anchor voice for a little while now, but we took a bit of a break. People kept on saying, “Oh my gosh, if you guys have kids, you should totally do this with them.” Sure enough, when I announced I was expecting, people brought it up again. A couple of days ago, my husband and I decided to finally give it a try. We weren’t sure if it was going to be cringy or not; it’s always a gamble. We put together the script really quickly, I think I was feeding the baby and he was cleaning up. You know pretty early on if social media is feeling it or not, and within five minutes, we got the sense that people really liked it.
Do you ever use your anchor voice outside of TikTok and work?
Oh yeah. When I was first in the business—and I think a lot of journalists, TV journalists, go through this—you’re finding your voice, so you might mimic what you’ve heard. It sounds kind of like the anchor voice we do, and so [my brother] brought it up years ago—like, “Why do you talk like that?” Since then, I’ve found something that’s much more natural to me. I do it jokingly still, with family and friends, that extreme version. But that anchor voice you hear on the videos, that’s not how I talk on air, it’s a little more natural-sounding.
A lot of people on TikTok are saying Isabella is going to have fantastic diction. Are you planning to teach your anchor voice to her?
I’ve seen that a lot, actually. I think—I don’t know she has a choice. When you have both of your parents who are anchors, and we’re known for the “anchor voice,” it might just pop up on her whether she likes it or not. People are saying, like, on the first day of kindergarten, she might be speaking like an anchor, and they might be like, “What is wrong with this girl?” So she’s probably going to end up doing it.
Another common question from your TikTok comments: Why do anchors talk like that?
That is a great question. What I do [on TikTok], it’s a bit extreme, but it is a version of how anchors typically talk. So what they’re referring to is a non-regional accent, so you can’t place where the anchor is from, which is intentional. It’s like a neutralized accent. The diction is taken up a notch. You’re projecting your voice. Sometimes you might deepen it a little bit. All of that serves a purpose. As we’re moving up in the business, we’re in different markets. So, I started off in Little Rock, and then I was in DC, and then I was in Philly, and then I came back to DC. So you don’t want to sound like any specific place. You project your voice so you can be heard and understood a little better—your diction also, for the same reason. The anchor voice is very distinct for that reason. Our job is to communicate important information, and you don’t want anything to be a distraction.
What advice do you have for someone looking to develop an anchor voice?
I mean, don’t shoot for an anchor voice. That might sound a little weird if you’re giving a presentation at work and suddenly it sounds like you’re going to talk about breaking news. But I do get this question a lot, like, “How do you improve your public speaking?” I would say, enunciate. Pronounce your words. Speak clearly. A lot of people might drop off at the end of their sentences, so what you’re saying—the information you’re trying to relay—can get a little lost. I would also say project. Speak up.
That gives off the impression that you’re confident in what you’re saying; that you’re credible in what you’re saying. Don’t be afraid of pauses. A lot of people just kind of rush through things. That gives off the impression that you’re a little nervous. So don’t be afraid to slow it down, pause, and emphasize critical information. You’ll hear when we do our videos. Like, the diapers. I emphasize explosion [laughs]. So whatever information you really want to emphasize—anchors typically do this—or whatever information you really want to get across, you emphasize that.
Anything else you want to say about Baby News Network?
A couple of things: One, people are asking for a series, and the pressure’s on, because I don’t know how we can top this. We’re working on something here, as far as a part two. And lastly, one of the things that stood out to me is how appreciative people were of positive, heartwarming content. It’s really touching to us to hear that. I know some people are going through tough times. It’s been a stressful couple of years. If we can make people smile, that means the world to us.