News Triage

People often ask me how we decide what news we will cover on the Sunday edition of “Weekend Live.” Great question.

In a world of events mundane to magnificent, we have to make decisions about the stories and issues we can and should explore in the given time. I like to compare our job to that of a triage nurse in an emergency room. Our first task is to assess which stories need urgent attention, which should be x-rayed, and identify those that can wait until we have the time to give them proper treatment.

Urgent, breaking news is my favorite. Your pulse quickens and you get a little adrenaline surge when you are sitting in the anchor chair and a big, breaking story comes your way. To help you know that something important is happening, we "bang the gong" — our term for that "FOX News Alert" animation that runs every time there is breaking news.

Often at the beginning we have only the barest information to share, so we do our best to stay within the confines of what we know — and try not to venture into the realm of speculation. Behind the scenes, hundreds of FOX News employees worldwide shift into gear automatically and begin the process of making phone calls and doing research. It all gets funneled back to the anchor desk in the form of computer messages or information delivered through the anchor's earpiece. Usually within a few minutes, we have a good sense of the story.

As I mentioned, some stories must be x-rayed. By this, I mean we need to study them in-depth and analyze what they mean. For this we often turn to experts and FOX News contributors. Washington is a town where you can find an expert on just about any topic imaginable. Interview segments help to flesh out the stories of the day. Often I am learning right along with the viewer.

Finally, if time allows, we move into those areas of news that are not in need of urgent care. These are the optional stories that bring a bit of sparkle to a two-hour broadcast. I am fond of news-you-can-use segments — you know, news and information that helps you save a buck or helps you in the daily grind of life. On our “Next Big Thing” segment, we examine the newest gear, technology or lifestyle trends. This is one of our most popular features.

One thing we try not to do is insult the intelligence of the audience with what I call don't-run-with-scissors segments. I yell at my TV every time I hear some local consumer reporter telling me things that any human being with a working brain cell knows instinctively. You know you should wear sunscreen and drink water when it’s hot. I love and respect you, dear viewer, but I didn't take you to raise.

Our finely honed team of producers, writers, technicians and interns will gather again this Sunday for another edition of “Weekend Live.” Join us and see how we manage the process of news triage.


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Brian Wilson is a congressional correspondent for FOX News and anchor of the Sunday edition of "Weekend Live."