When News Breaks

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Our show surprised us last night and surprised us during the show.

We had planned the show with certain topics and guests, but then breaking news — the arrest of the employee at the Department of Homeland Security — threw a wrench into the plans. While I was on the air, the people who have the hard job on our show, quickly found three key guests to discuss the arrest and then the producer did the magic of finding the time for the three guests.

At this point I am a bit confused since everything happens so quickly during breaking news and it happens while we are on air. I think we kept everything we had originally planned for the show, but that the guest interview times were shortened to make room for the three unexpected guests. The first place the producer looks to shorten interviews is with the legal panel. She will usually shave some time from them to make room for the unexpected. I think we had two segments planned with them last night so the producer had more flexibility. I also know that we had planned on running some tape of a hearing before Congress yesterday and that never made air, so that was also a place where the producer found time for the three guests.

When there is breaking news, the best and easiest job is being the anchor. The "job from hell" is the producer's job in the control room. That is the person who must make a million decisions all at once with no notice. The producer decides how much to do of the breaking news and what guests. The anchor just waits for directions like, "We are going to the reporter next," or "We are running the breaking news animation," etc. The hardest part of the anchor's job — and it is not that hard — is to get a direction from the producer while conducting an interview on air. The direction is not as to content or questions, but rather who is the next guest, etc. The producers try to talk fast and clearly with few words, since when the producer talks, the guest's audio to the anchor is cut off and the anchor can not hear the guest's remarks.

In a breaking news situation, the producer does take the control reins and dictates the direction of the show. There is little room for freelancing by an anchor if the anchor is smart. An anchor is smart to let one person run the direction of the show. Likewise, the anchor and the producer must trust each other because there is no time for talk or debate: You are on the air, so you have to get it done... and get it done well and right. The anchor does not want to look confused.

Incidentally, a good producer speaks calmly to the anchor via the earpiece even though all hell is breaking loose in the control room. And a good anchor is calm during the obvious chaos.

After I said good-bye to the viewers last night, we quickly turned the channel on the TV in the studio: Everyone working our show in D.C. stayed a few minutes (including Ted and Bernie) to watch the final three minutes of the women's college basketball championship. If you did not watch us last night and you watched the game, I totally understand. It was very exciting — congrats to the University of Maryland.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1 — This e-mail was sent to me with the subject line reading: conflict of interest:

If I share an elevator with the pope does it make me Catholic? People are so funny. Conflict of interest indeed!
Dallas, TX

E-mail No. 2

Hi Greta,
I continue to enjoy your show. I had a quick question. What ever happened to criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence? I'm a fan of his but haven't seen him lately on any of the cable shows. Just curious.
Thanks and, as always, keep up the great work.
Reggie Jordan

ANSWER: What a good question! I have not seen Gerry in a long time. I do know that it was always a nightmare to book him since he lives far from a studio. But I will look into this.

E-mail No. 3

You seem to report missing persons a lot. Why don't you report on the missing persons at FOX? Such as Catherine Herridge, Kiran Chetry, Amy Kellogg, Rick Folbaum, Linda Vester, Laurie Dhue, Dari Alexander and Steve Harrigan?
Thank you.

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
I really love your show. I personally think you are very good at what you do. I was wondering why you always wear turtlenecks and cover up your neck? You are attractive so why do you try to dress more like a man?

ANSWER: I am freezing in the studio. I guess I care more about feeling comfortable than how it looks.

E-mail No. 5

Brian Doyle is just another example of how perverts and child molesters come from all races, ages, walks of life and socioeconomic brackets. No one is exempt... and no child is safe.

E-mail No. 6

Oh yeah, it just gets better and better doesn't it? Now, we have this DHS person, Mr. Doyle, arrested for Internet sexual predation and pornography with a 'ghost girl.' I agree his behavior is disgusting, but how is it illegal if there is no 'real' victim? Where the hell does this end?
Why are these law enforcement people not after the parents of the real child victims of the predators and make some serious community service mandatory — no exceptions? Let's show the parents they are the real facilitators of these sexual crimes... and parade their sorry butts on TV.
Mike R.

E-mail No. 7

The DHS case is outrageous. The Polk County SO should get a lot of credit for preventing a potential disaster at the homeland security level. Beyond his alleged criminal intent, Doyle's online and offline behavior is a massive security threat to the departments he so shamelessly associates himself with in chat rooms and elsewhere. This is beyond incompetent or criminal, and completely unacceptable.
Have a great day and week, as always.

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