Close Call

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Dear Viewers,

I don't know about you, but I am capable of making mistakes so I try and make my job easier. Read on about one of the "tricks of the trade." (By the way, Friday's blog is specially for those who asked for more behind the scenes information...)

It does not get "better" than this: I went through Thursday night's scripts before the show and decided it would be better to phonetically spell TSUNAMI (search) than correctly spell it. You never know when I am going to have a problem pronouncing a word, so why not make it easy? I like the easy way.

In the very first script (the show introduction), I wrote: "SUE-NAMI" for TSUNAMI. I really did not "need" having a problem on THAT word when it represents such a catastrophe. I am perfectly capable of making a stupid mistake, so I try and create an environment that minimizes the risk. After typing "SUE-NAMI" for "TSUNAMI" in the introductory script, one of my colleagues — who I may now strangle — suggested I use an edit button in the script software program and have "SUE-NAMI" replace ALL references to TSUNAMI in the scripts. She said if I did that, I would not have to go through each script and one-by-one edit the word TSUNAMI. I did not know there was such a function in the software program — I had never noticed it before. She directed me how to find it and I did it. It seemed like a good (great?) idea to me and so I did it. I went to the edit button and clicked on "Replace All." I typed in "SUE-NAMI" for "TSUNAMI.

A short time later, one of my New York producers laughed at me. Apparently, not only did I change all the references in MY scripts to SUE-NAMI, but by doing what I did, I also changed what would appear on the TV screen throughout our show. If it had not been caught by a vigilant New York producer, our show would have repeatedly had the letters "SUE-NAMI" appear on our screen for TSUNAMI. Do you have any idea how stupid we (OK, I) would have looked? I don't know if I could have lived it down.

As an aside, the software program we use at FOX is the same one we used when I was at CNN. It is the industry standard I guess. When the software program was introduced to CNN in about 1995, I skipped the class. I have continued to pay for this since then.

Do you know what the Basel Convention (search) is? I didn't until yesterday. I was on a plane flying back to work and came across the term while reading an article about how we dispose of or fail to dispose of old computer equipment. The article kept referring to the Basel Convention and, I confess, I had no idea what it meant. Since I love to learn new things, I quickly looked it up when I got into the office. Here is the quick reference I found online:

"The Basel Convention restricts trade in hazardous waste, some non-hazardous wastes, solid wastes and incinerator ash. It was adopted in 1989 by a United Nations-sponsored conference of 116 nations in Basel, Switzerland."

Incidentally, the USA has not signed on to this international convention. That's all I know about it and would like to learn more ... maybe you know more. One thing I do know is that we have a big problem in the world about what to do with hazardous waste.

On Sunday night, I'm hosting a special at 9 p.m. ET — an hour earlier than our usual time slot — on the tsunami. I hope you will tune in since we are working very hard on it. We intend to bring you the latest news from the region and you will learn new things. What I like most about our show is that you walk away from it — or at least I do every night — learning something new. It is not "TV-usual" — it is cutting edge news as it happens, with guests who provide viewpoints based on expertise and experience and it is also gives you information that you did not have before you started watching.

Now for a few e-mails ... yes, randomly selected — except the first one from Bernie Grimm:

E-mail No. 1 — NOTE: I sent Bernie Grimm, Claudia Cowan, Jim Hammer, Laura Ingle an e-mail asking what they did over the holidays. Bernie just responded:

What I did over the Holidays:
Since both Federal Court and Local court don’t bring in juries between Dec 21 and Jan 30 I can guarantee that I wont be in trial. So, normally I like to spend that week at home with my three children: Dillon, 13; Madeline, 10; and Jack, 5. However this season we had a major bump in the road. I started a murder case Dec. 13th. The jury went out to deliberate on the 20th. We (Judge included) expected a quick verdict one way, or another given that Christmas was fast approaching. When a jury is out you need to be available to answer a note or take a verdict within ten minutes. For me that meant no Christmas shopping, no decorations around the house, I didn’t even have time to buy a tree! The kids were calling me Scrooge. The jury deliberated from the 20th to 5PM on the 23rd. They sent us a note asking if they could come back on the 27th for further deliberations. Everyone was shocked. Even the Judge commented that maybe we should send them a note that most people take vacations from the Christmas to New Years. Finally they came back Tuesday, the 28th saying they were" hopelessly deadlocked". The Judge promptly declared a mistrial and sent everyone home. We spoke to the jury for ten minutes afterwards, the count was 11 to 1 for acquittal. Ouch.
I am home with my kids now making up for lost time. In my absence I tried to have Santa make up the difference.

E-mail No. 2

My dearest Greta:
As a 78-year-old great grandma, I have never seen so much hate in the world. These people that criticize you and the president have no clue as to what is going on in this world. To criticize the president, even during this catastrophic of biblical proportions is ridiculous. Don't people need to have a little time to call the people in charge?

E-mail No. 3

Aid for tsunami victims $35 million.
Bush Inaugural costs $45 million.
Cost for one day of Iraq war $177 million.

E-mail No. 4

Hello Greta,
Like most Americans I feel a tremendous urge to help in Southeast Asia after the tsunami. I have recently sold my nightclub and restaurant and feel like now is the time to help. I am a 27-year-old communications and business grad and I have a 28-foot-power boat. I hear and imagine that with the thousands of islands in the South Pacific it will be nearly impossible access all of the people in need. My boat has a ten thousand pound load capacity and can travel @ 35knots or 39mph. I am aware of the huge financial contributions made and maybe there would be a way to transport myself and my boat to the South Pacific and I can transport and give up to three months of my time. I would like to help Greta, so please let me know if you and your sources could put 2&2 together and we could somehow do a joint FNC/GretaWire relief project.
Thank you, and hope to hear from you,
Stephan Beynun
San Diego, CA

ANSWER: I am seeing many Americans who have the same spirit as Stephan.

E-mail No. 5

Hi, Greta. Incredible show — excellent coverage of the tsunami disaster. Great guests, great questions. The eyewitness accounts are fascinating, the photos and video riveting, terrifying, and heartbreaking. Can't imagine how anyone — residents or vacationers — will ever get over the horror and loss. Glad you took the time to talk about the animals with Jack Hanna. Can't imagine how some people can be back out on the beach already — not because there is still danger, but because of the suffering and devastation just yards away.
Hate to admit this now, but many of us who are native Californians — especially we native San Franciscans — can be rather cavalier about earthquakes. Most of us have experienced them since we were kids, and grew up hearing the talk about tsunamis, and the inevitable "big one" — the earthquake that will separate California from the mainland. But most of our earthquakes are so minor, with very little damage or injury, very rarely serious damage or fatalities. We're so lucky to have buildings and bridges retrofitted to withstand earthquakes, earthquake awareness programs in schools and communities, etc. Those poor people in South Asia had no such luxuries, and were so vulnerable. And the innocent vacationers were just there to have some fun. How profoundly sad that in the space of a few minutes they experienced such terrible tragedy.
Glad you're back, Greta! Looking forward to the special OTR Sunday night — maybe there will be new info by then — hopefully some stories of newly-found survivors.
Take care.

ANSWER: I am delighted Jesse thought our coverage excellent... I hope Jesse realizes that it is the collective hard work of all my colleagues — Adam Housley, senior producer, producers, bookers, guests etc. — a show is NOT one person. I play a role, but in reality, a small one compared to the immense work behind me by those you may never see.

E-mail No. 6

Hi Greta,
We just recently acquired cable TV, and I am enjoying getting to know you and your program.
I saw tonight's program with the final footage of the tsunami flying through the town. In the article, there was mention of the numbers of
children who are now orphaned, due to the death of their parents.
Have you heard about who to contact about adopting them? My husband
and I have a 5-year-old son that we adopted from Romania, and he would be thrilled to have a sibling. What thoughts do you have on how I can learn more about contacts, cost, etc.?
Thanks for your help!
Linda Morris
Sandown, NH

ANSWER: I'm not sure what will become of the orphan children, but, as time passes, we should get some information. Obviously any child that would join your family would be very, very lucky.

E-mail No. 7

Received a message from party in Montana that they heard on the news that Peterson had confessed that he had hit his wife with a golf club, etc. I haven't heard anything at all about it and neither can I find anything on the Modesto or Stanislaus news. Have you anything at all?

ANSWER: I have not heard this.


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