Monday, January 28, 2008

We're not in Utah anymore Molly

President Gordon B. Hinckley

I've had the most surreal morning. I had a feeling this day would come during my tenure at Fox 5, and today it came. President Gordon B. Hinckley died. I always wondered what this day would be like from a Washington DC news standpoint; and having just experienced it, I have to say I feel like I'm shocked... stumped... and maybe a little sheepish.

I received the news last night via a phone call from my Mom. Of course she was watching my old station, KSL, who broke in to regular programming, brought in the religion experts (Carole Mikita and Duanne Cardall) to reminisce and dedicated no less than three (maybe four?) other reporters to the "breaking news" story. Half of the 10pm news was then spent on President Hinckley's life, death, community reaction and explaining how the Church will name his successor. After the 10pm news, came a full-fledge documentary KSL has had "in the can" for years. If I know KSL, I trust they will be all over this story for the next two weeks. It's HUGE news in Utah. If I was still at KSL, I would have just finished one of my busiest nights/shows yet.

Instead, I'm in Washington DC, where I still think it's BIG news. The greater DC area is home to 50, 000 Church members, a prominently-placed LDS temple and viewers who care about national and world events. But apparently the death of the beloved leader of the fastest growing church in the world only merits a :20 second mention. And it didn't even earn that last night.

When I learned the news, I immediately called our assignment desk to alert them. I told them to watch the wires where it would surely be breaking soon. I spoke to a writer and even emailed him information so he could write a quick "breaking news" or "this just in" blurb for our 10pm newscast. Instead of the gratitude I was expecting for giving them "the scoop," I was met with phrases like "who" and "never heard of him." I backed off. No one wants to be the producer who cries breaking news. I figured the 10pm producer would at least put something on the air once she saw it cross the wires, but she didn't. Oh well, I figured. That means my show can be the first to report it!

I really tried to not let my personal bias and interested in the story influence my show today. I vowed to put my church membership aside, and here's what I came up with: Nothing of substance happened overnight that as a news producer, not a Church member, I felt trumped President Hinckley's death. The other major story out there is the State of the Union, which, while big, is just a preview at 5:00am. I made the decision to lead with President Hinckley's death off the top of my show. I branded it "new this morning," spent 25 seconds on the story and moved on. Then at 5:30 (in morning TV you pretty much have a brand new audience every 15 minutes) I led with local stories, covered the State of the Union and latest election news and then aired a nearly three minute obituary package on President Hinckley's life and legacy. This is about double the length of a normal news package, although only slightly longer than your average obituary package. I went back and forth about whether it was "too much." But seeing no worthier stories and feeling validated in the fact that his death remained the top story on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC websites all night, I justified it. My manager questioned it. He asked if a package that long was "worth" it. I argued my points and he told me to go forth with my plan. So my viewers got a whopping 3:20 minute total look at the news story that will trump all else, in all shows, all day at KSL.

Over the next three hours of our morning show, we repeated a :20 second mention twice. The 7am (most important show) didn't even do the story. Granted we had a lot going on in the 7am today (like a mentoring phonebank that chewed up multiple minutes in multiple places) so time was precious. But not even a mention?

When my co-workers asked me how "big of a deal" this was I tried to keep perspective. I told them it's the equivalent of the Pope dying for Mormons. (By the way, the Pope is coming to DC in April and we already have major team coverage plans and all employees have been told they CANNOT take time off work that week. Too bad I'll be on maternity leave...) ((Double by the way, my biggest battle... which I chose to pick, eliminating the word "Mormon" from all newscasts today! Something about the correct term "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" is just too long in this snappy news world!)) My colleagues validated it was news and agreed it must be reported... but only for :20 seconds.

Maybe they know best. I was SHOCKED to watch the first 30 minutes of the Today Show to find NOT EVEN A MENTION! Not even in their quick "other news of the day" segment. Wow. But what did they waste two and a half minutes on? HEATH LEDGER'S DEATH AND "POSSIBLE" DRUG PROBLEM. Really, are we still talking about this? Old news people! We've beat that one to death (no pun intended). And for the record, we don't even know if there WAS a drug problem. And while I'm at it, if someone brings up the pointless Mary Kate Olsen connection one more time, I'm going to boycott all Full House re-runs forever! Anyway... the Today Show really let me down! I didn't expect wall-to-wall coverage or the story to beat State of the Union or the Kennedys endorsement of Barack Obama as the lead, but could you make a mention? 20 seconds. Come on! It's NEWS!

More than anything I guess I'm feeling really insecure now of my own news judgment. Of course this is a big deal to me. But I really thought it would be a bigger deal to America. Isn't it? Don't people care? Of course, my blog readers are 95% LDS so YOU care. I must solicit the opinion of Logical Libby (not LDS and KSL producer extraordinaire). Throw me a bone, girl! Have a lost it?

**Shout out to Marie (LDS and former KSL producer extraordinaire) who was quick to validate the hugeness of the story over g-chat at 2:00AM! Missing the good old days, girl!**

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"It's bigger than a houseboat..."

That's what we kept telling ourselves and that's how my family survived our cramped Christmas quarters. Nine people, six air mattresses (we'd borrowed more than planned by the end, trying to meet everyone's comfort level), piles of blankets and pillows, fourteen suitcases and bags... oh and ONE BATHROOM! My Dad, who in ways is the most high maintenance of all, became very familiar with our complex's gym locker rooms. Operation Christmas in the Capital was crowded, but it was truly magical! I loved having everyone stay in one place rather than scattered across multiple hotel rooms. (Of course, I say this because, being pregnant and on a weird schedule, I enjoyed my spacious king-size bed the entire time. Perhaps those who were on the floor, snoozing to the soothing sounds of others SNORING would disagree!) I should mention our apartment has seen these numbers before... almost. The 4th of July Extravaganza (pre-blogging days... no link:( ) hosted eight people and one dog. But we hit that max number only one night and the entire extravaganza was about 1/4 as long! We Weilers are big boaters and have enjoyed many trips to Lake Powell involving MORE people staying on a houseboat SMALLER than my apartment, so that helped keep things in perspective. However, I'm pretty sure next Christmas you'll find us all on a massive cruise ship...

For those of you who know my apartment, there were more peeps in the office, but you can't open the door to that room once an air mattress is inflated (hence no pictures). Remember how cute my apartment was all decked out before they arrived? Don't hold this mess against me... this is obviously not normally how I operate!:)

For pictures of the more "positive" aspects of Operation Christmas in the Capital, visit Harley's blog here. Click on the one picture he's posted to view an entire gallery of fun!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

28 years, 28 weeks

Tuesday I hit a milestone. Two of them, actually. I turned 28 years old, and I arrived at 28 weeks in my pregnancy. This means I'm in the THIRD TRIMESTER (7 months, for those of you who, like me, until I became prego, weeks and 'mesters meant nothing). Disclaimer: I'm 28 weeks according to ONE of my contradicting sources at Kaiser. Harley and I actually trust this source the least, but we'll go with it here because it makes a great post theme!

The double 28 milestone gave reason to celebrate! I had a GREAT Birthday/Welcome to the 3T. Harley bussed, then metroed downtown to meet me after work at 7AM. (What a trooper!) We had a big, delicious breakfast at The Original Pancake House. They have these rich chocolate chip pancakes with fresh whipped cream that are AMAZING! I'd been craving them since I first tried them last week with my family who also came downtown at an unspeakable hour to WATCH ME produce my show. (Note, more troopers!) While feasting on OPH goodness I rejoiced in my favorite birthday tradition: opening thoughtful cards from dear friends and family. Thank you, thank you -- these make my day! And I must mention here (sorry, no picture at this time...) I LOVE my FABULOUS Gucci handbag sent early from Sara!!!

Mmmm... melt-in-your-mouth mayhem!

Thanks Alyssa for the FUN jewelry -- love it!

Mother Nature gave me a WONDERFUL birthday gift: 73 degree weather! (Notice I'm bearing bare legs in the middle of January! Sorry if it blinds you!) It was a beautiful day! I wish it would somehow, miraculously stick because we all know, I'm not a fan of winter in DC. However, I know better than to stash my coats and gloves. My Fox 5 meteorology team tells me the winter warm-up is only temporary.

I got away with a light jacket, but notice I'm about to BURST out of it. I just can't justify purchasing a maternity coat!!

I left Harley and came home to receive THREE mysterious phone calls from Harley, Cheryl and Lisa. All went something like this: "Happy Birthday! I think you may have intercepted a package from me in the mail." "No, I don't think so." "Oh but you have! It's hiding in the apartment and you're COLD!" Three times I proceeded to play "hot & cold treasure hunt" (just like in primary) to find the following:

Gift card to The Corner Bakery (one of my favorites!), hidden appropriately in the bread maker, from Lisa.

A pedicure gift certificate, to be used pre-delivery, from Cheryl! (I've been told the only pretty thing you have going on in the delivery room are your toes... and they're right in Doc's face, so make them count!) She cleverly hid this inside our Shakespeare book on a living room shelf.

Ooooh, a Nordstrom box from Harley tucked inside the entertainment center. Inside... a designer diaper bag! Wow!!! Uber impressive!

Apparently, all this hiding went down the day before my family flew home while I was sleeping. I can't believe how sneaky they were! My apartment is not that big, and they knew I'd be deep cleaning after they left, yet all three of them found tricky little spots I didn't look in! (Or maybe my cleaning wasn't that deep?) The rest of the day, I slept away. Thank you to each of you who called, facebooked, emailed, texted, blogged, sent cards and gifts. My life is so full and blessed because of you!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

100% Boy!

Last week a 2nd ultrasound (performed by a much nicer technician) confirmed it... 100% Boy! My due date is still up for debate (I actually have THREE now!)... I'm seeing my new doctor, under new insurance, next week. I'll let him be the tiebreaker. Meantime, I guess this means the shopping can officially begin! Not sure whether that excites or overwhelms me... mostly the latter.

Thanks Sara for the perfect "It's a Boy!" tee! Love it and love you!!!