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Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas In The Newsroom

December 24, 1989:

General Manuel Noriega is given asylum at the Vatican embassy in Panama City, four days after President George Bush orders an invasion of Panama.

Uh oh.

How dare the indicted strongman-turned-drug-trafficking-suspect give in, and give up… on Christmas Eve?

How could he do something so… how do I say it?... NEWSWORTHY… on a night when there are like three people in the entire newsroom?

Welcome to my nightmare.

So it was off to the phones, first calling manager-on-duty Caryn Brooks. “So Caryn, what do you suggest?” Caryn had some wonderful ideas… for a normal night. But this was Christmas Eve! Where were we going to get three reporters, three camera operators, another editor, and the engineering help we’d need to pull this off?

Caryn went into full manager mode, pretty much telling people they HAD to show up… on short notice… on Christmas Eve.

Oh, they were pissed. One cameraman – I’ll refrain from naming him, because he was basically a nice guy – railed several times how it was Jews forcing him to work, and why didn’t we bring more Jews in instead of him? I never saw this side of him before, and never saw it again after that night. It was Christmas Eve, so he gets a mulligan. But I mention it to show just how much people hate to have their holiday celebrations interrupted by the chance that (real) news might just break out.

I thought of that fateful Christmas Eve after watching this skit reel offering, from the early years following the CBS takeover of WCIX. Reporters Al Sunshine and Stephen Lankford, videographers Ralph Murciano, Luis Medellin, and Tony Jerez, and writer/producers Caryn Brooks, Dan Leveton, and Shannon High (pre-Bassalik, several years before returning as news director) all take part in this light-hearted spoof. You’ll also catch a glimpse of news director Paul Stueber, and feed room coordinator Evy Woods. A word of warning: Christmas reel skits often contain profanity, and this one is no exception. Even without the sound, some might be offended, so you might want to watch this clip when the kids and the boss aren’t around.

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