Dispatches from the Control Room – January 23

* Today’s show was… interesting. Thanks to HAL-9000, a single button-push can essentially wreck the newscast, terminate NBC5 life-support and trigger a self-destruct countdown.

If you were awake at the ungodly hour my show airs, you would have seen the robotic camera wheel away from Andy during weather and sit on Dick and Zoraida for at least 45 seconds as Mr. Avalos finished his forecast. And then, when we went to a pre-taped piece about the economy going to hell, a second incorrect button-push dropped us out of the story mid-sentence. It was like the perfect storm of technical difficulties.

* Check out that spiffy new banner atop the page! Guess Dick & Company will have to get their own blogs. This is my world, people. Welcome to the jungle.

* We’re backsliding, Comment Crew. After six comments on the last two blogs of last week, I’ve got just two for each of the first two blogs this week. What’s the matter? Too cold to type? Are you okay? Are you trapped under something heavy? If so, shout for help. I’ll keep my ears peeled as I walk home today.

* Jakki wants me to be positive. Well, I’m positive there won’t be a “Brokeback Mountain” sequel now. (Sorry, Heath.)

* Speaking of Oscar-caliber movies, the aforementioned “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country for Old Men” received Best Picture nods yesterday. See them immediately. The latter is very good; the former is great.

* Jakki also thinks it’s fine for us to shove weather coverage down your throats whenever it snows/rains/whatever. This e-mail from viewer Richard Mikes begs to differ.

“On Monday evening January 20, your lead story was the winter snow. Give me a break. The snowfall was not that major, certainly not worth the lead story. It’s just an indication of how the media blows everything out of proportion. It’s small wonder that people freak out during winter, if they listen to you. It’s Chicago. It’s winter. Snow happens. Quit trying to instill fear in people with your thorough reporting.”

Preach on, Brother Richard!

* A nonprofit journalism group discovered that the government may have fudged the facts before we went into Iraq. Surely, you jest.

* Scotland is considering lobbying the United States to lift a ban on haggis, hoping to boost sales of the sheep-stomach-based national dish. Guess what, Scotland. We don’t want your haggis. You keep them. Really. Thanks, but no thanks. We ate before we came. We’re allergic. We’ve got to get going. But thanks again for the offer. No… we don’t want a tupperware to take some home. Okay, fine. We’ll take them (but we’ll throw them away as soon as we walk out).

* Scientists say the culture you grow up in permanently alters your brain. That kind of absolves Britney, since she grew up in the Crazyville Trailer Park in Delinquentparent County. (That’s in southwest Skankabama.)

* As I’m writing this, an apple pie just got delivered to the newsroom. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? FREE PIE! Apparently, it’s National Pie Day. Who knew?

Longtime readers of this blog are, by now, clearly bored with my constant mentions of newsroom food. But we work in the middle of the night. We can’t just run out and grab a meal at some swanky Michigan Avenue eatery. It’s either vending machines, 7-11, the gut-wrenching Ranalli’s (see yesterday) or severely stale Dunkin’ Donuts. And under constant deadlines, the concept of “lunch” is foreign. I think I’ve taken fewer than ten actual lunches in the six years I’ve worked in this industry. I usually just reach in my desk’s drawer of treats and eat something loaded with preservatives and sugar. Explains a lot, huh?

* As I drooled over the free pie, our traffic whiz Nicole asked me if the unexpected treat would merit a place on the blog. I told her that any and all free food would be blogged with haste. I told her if she wanted to be mentioned on the blog, she’d have to bring me a treat, as though I were a troll guarding a bridge. But I realize at this point, I’ve already mentioned her and she hasn’t brought me so much as an M&M.

Well-played, Nicole. Well-played.

* As the last bit of pie slid down my throat, Executive Producer Wendy asked me to help clear a printer jam since the person who’d normally do that called in sick. Being a man, I have an intuitive communion with machines, so I went over, pushed, pulled, swore and punched the printer. The printer is still jammed.

* Yesterday, one of our newscasts reported that researchers “found that people with diets high in fried or processed food, meat and soda are at greater risk for heart problems and diabetes.”

Really? Thank you, doctor.

Next thing you know, we’ll tell you it’s snowing outside…

* On a serious note, 45,000 people die each month in Congo. Wow. Thanks to disease, food shortages and war, 5.4 million Congolese died between 1998 and April 2007. Over that time span, I can recall exactly zero stories about this on any newscast I’ve seen. Reading this, I’m reminded that journalism should sometimes be more about the long-term changes on Earth, and less about the overnight crashes on the Dan Ryan. We write history as it happens. And I’m pretty sure our children won’t learn about yesterday’s water main break in their world history classes.

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4 responses to “Dispatches from the Control Room – January 23

  1. I said we expect to hear about the snow – not that I liked hearing about it. I agree with viewer Richard – It’s Chicago and it’s suppose to be cold and snowy. I guess I should have indicated my sarcasm better in my post. LOL

    I still think you need to be more positive – maybe then we can get up to 7 comments on this blog. LOL

  2. Maybe you have answered this… where do you find time to write the blog when you are so busy? I mean career, sleep, career, that’s the grind for all of us, but you are able to crank out the blog almost daily! And it’s humorous and insightful for those of us who like peering behind the curtain. Your description of the camera moving away from Andy was cool for us who have never been in a studio. Where you find the time is what I (and maybe others) want to know. We are all busy and have so much to do but your’re able to pound out the Breakfast Blog. I wish I had more time to do something similar here at my job, I am just too busy. Oh well time to get back to the career, then sleep!

  3. lazynbc5junkie

    HAL-9000 sounds like a richous dude that just has a hard job. Running a newscast for almost 5 hours everyday is a tough job. Do you guys still have a director and technical director, sound dude, ect or where all of those jobs dumped when the computerization happened?

    Hit me up with an email: thelilddude@yahoo.com

  4. Suggestion to go back to have Dick and Z come our from behind the desk to deliver the watercooler talk. Seems a little more personal and less formal that way.

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