The Urgent File

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You might wonder how we relate information/news to each other within FOX News Channel. We have so many people all over the world in FOX News Channel — collecting news 24/7 — and we need to pass it around to each other and do so quickly. We need to be informed and up to the moment.

What happens is that reporters either call in reports to be put in our computer system or write reports and put them in our computer system in the "urgent file." We all have access to the "urgent file" provided that you can log on (have computer access and the user name and passcode assigned.) Of course you don't have to be in a FOX bureau to access the "urgent file" — you just need to be able to get online. Many people who work for FOX News are dispatched all over the world and they need full access to information.

You find all sorts of information in the "urgent file" and it has many, many, many, many news items. The "urgent file" gets updated 24/7 so you can imagine how often during the day (during the hour?) a diligent newsperson reads it. You don't want to be behind in the want to be current (or you belong in another occupation!) You can program your computer to beep when a new item is posted so that you don't miss anything.

To give you some examples of news entries in the "urgent file," Tuesday, among hundreds of news entries, there was a long report on what might have happened in the airline crash off the coast of Miami on Monday. There are also short news items alerting to expected news conferences about the crash and the times of the news conferences. In scanning the urgent moments ago I saw reports about the schedules of high-ranking government officials, news about the New York transit strike, etc. There are so many entries that I just can't begin to list them. The "urgent file" contains everything!

You can sometimes find embargoed items in the "urgent file" — e.g. speeches that politicians plan to deliver. We get the speech early so that we can study it in advance but we can't report on it until it is delivered by the person since it is "embargoed." You can even find warnings in the "urgent file" about news stories like, "We are hearing that a particular item reported by another network may not be correct..." etc. This is to avoid us making the same mistake.

Yesterday in scanning the "urgent file" I saw this very short item which caught my attention:

Things are going to be SO close tomorrow, Reid has asked Dodd to head back to town just days after knee replacement surgery (had it Dec 3). He's traveled back from Connecticut — it's unclear when we'll see him and in what kind of shape he'll be."

The "Dodd" is Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and the item relates to his returning to Washington for a vote today in the Senate. I don't know if anyone will find the information about Senator Dodd above newsworthy and thus report it, but we do get tidbits such as this for our review in deciding what we want to put on the air.

The "urgent" entry has a noted time on it so you can tell when it was posted and thus look for any updates. Also the name of the person making the report in the "urgent file" is noted so that you can follow up with a question of that person if you have one.

Here is another entry from the "urgent file" yesterday that caught my attention that I post merely to give you an idea of how broad the items posted are:

(AP) BEIRUT, Lebanon — A Lebanese man serving a life sentence in Germany for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and killing of a U.S. Navy diver has returned to Lebanon after being paroled in Germany, security and guerrilla officials said Tuesday.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi arrived in Beirut four days ago on a commercial flight from Germany, a Lebanese security official and a Hezbollah guerrilla group said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It was not known where Hamadi, who spent 19 years in prison, went after entering Lebanon.

Hamadi's case came up for a court-mandated review, and he was released after an expert assessment and a hearing, said Doris Moeller-Scheu, spokeswoman for the Frankfurt, Germany, prosecutor's office.

German Justice Ministry spokeswoman Eva Schmierer said Berlin had not received any request from the United States for Hamadi's extradition.

U.S. authorities had requested his extradition so he could stand trial in the United States, but the Germans, who have no death penalty, insisted on prosecuting Hamadi. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said there was no connection between Hamadi's release and the recent freeing of former hostage Susanne Osthoff, a German woman released over the weekend after spending more than three weeks as a captive in Iraq.

TWA flight 847 from Athens, Greece, to Rome was hijacked in June 1985 to Beirut, where the hijackers beat and shot U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, 23, of Waldorf, Md., and dumped his body on the tarmac.

Stethem was the only casualty during the hijacking ordeal, in which 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorations, and a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer is named in his honor.

Hamadi was arrested at the Frankfurt airport on Jan. 13, 1987, when customs officials discovered liquid explosives in his luggage.

I posted the above article because I can't forget this crime. When I saw the news item in the "urgent file," I read it immediately. I find it hard to believe the killer of U.S. Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem was released. Why? I sure hope we get answers.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

I read your blogs every day and try to watch you every night. I love your approach to the stories you are following... After reading the e-mails on today's blog, I have to agree that although many of us thoroughly enjoy the work you do, life is far too short to choose work over family. Perfect example is the Hurricane Katrina victims... I'm sure none of those who lost someone ever even gave it a second thought they'd never see their loved one again. Your husband is obviously a very special man... treasure every minute you can with him. (But keep up the EXCELLENT work!)
Denise Schaefer

ANSWER: The above e-mail is about my Monday blog where I revealed that I delayed my vacation 36 hours to go to New Orleans to interview Senators Landrieu and Clinton about New Orleans. Denise makes a good point — we need to take time for our families. I spoke to my husband about what I should do and he agreed that delaying my trip for 36 hours was the right thing to do for us. Each family has its own considerations and I can understand a different view.

E-mail No. 2

I, too, had the same thoughts that your e-mailers No. 2 and 5 had — but only you can determine your priorities. As for people who criticize you for wearing what they regard as unflattering clothing — so what! Is it your job to be a fashion-plate or to be a reporter who must first consider her comfort, safety and health? The emphasis should be on the story, not the reporter/host. There are enough beauty queens on TV already. I like the fact that you are your own pretty self and not "done-up" artificially.
Sanford, NC

E-mail No. 3

I bet nothing changed since the last time you were in New Orleans. Why go there and not your vacation? Believe me, New Orleans will still be there when you get back in the same shape it's in now and the Senators are doing their Political thing anyway. I was a resident of St. Bernard Parish and moved on with my life. I grew up there but believe me I never want to see what happened to the home I lived in ever again and it will happen again. Get over this. Everyone get over this. The victims in Mississippi and Texas are going through the same thing. The people in Florida have been going through this for over a year. You think four hurricanes in one season is easy to overcome? Do I see the media going to Florida and talking to people who still haven't been able to rebuild there? I'm not happy about having to leave my home but I can't just sit back and wait for somebody to take care of me. You want to report on something, report on FEMA not having their act together. Report on the Red Cross not having a clue as to handle this. Report on how these organizations can take care of other countries in a crisis but their own. I couldn't tell you how the people in Texas and Mississippi are dealing with these organizations because no one reports on that. I have friends in surrounding Parishes that still can't get help from FEMA because as far as FEMA's concerned the damage isn't bad enough. Report on that.
Dionne Thiel

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