Last Wednesday, I learned I’m allowed to make our anchors drink wine during our newscast. Annaliese and Savannah will never film sober again.
Kidding, of course! (Well, sort of.) This week, Annenberg TV News’ acclaimed faculty advisor, Ms. Stacy Scholder, asked us producers to reflect on something new we’ve done to innovate in our show. Lucky for her and the rest of our 75 viewers, “innovate” is practically my middle name! (The “L” stands for “Lots of ideas.” And for “Liquor.” Which brings me to my next point…)
Pour one out for the wine moms, the boomers, and their Gen-Z kids showing them how to use Twitter, because this segment combines all of that into fun discussions on pop culture moments I probably would’ve pitched as kickers (light-hearted stories to close the show) if we weren’t doing this segment. (I can hear Stacy’s voice now: “But what’s the ANGLE here?” Great question! I’ll let you know at 5 p.m.)
My co-producer Evan Falstrup and I decided to use this segment to bridge generational gaps by educating each other on iconic cultural cornerstones (or viral moments, in more recent times). We accomplish this by having our two young anchors get on a Zoom with two older Annenberg Media faculty members to discuss topics of our choosing over a glass of wine.
This concept has been explored before (looking at you, Elders React on YouTube), but the format we chose – specifically the wine aspect – is definitely new to ATVN. Part of me didn’t think Stacy would ever approve the segment, but once Evan and I gave our enthusiastic pitch in class, I think she realized there was no stopping us.
Before you continue reading, you should probably watch the segment to fully appreciate what I’m talking about, starting at 18:35 in last Wednesday’s show.
Three initial thoughts about the segment:
- Sandy was the perfect voice, and the only one consistently sipping her wine. (I see you!)
- Henry was the overlooked genius.
- I’m glad Lil Nas X was still relevant by Wednesday, because in truth, I decided he’d be one of the topics DAYS before the show.
At the start of Wednesday’s production day, I assured Stacy and the rest of the team (our Executive Producer Alex Song and his shadow Alexis Gebhardt, bless their trusting hearts that I so often push to the limit) that I had a plan – it just had to be kept secret from everyone except the anchors, since I didn’t want the topics to get spoiled for our faculty guests. (Also, HUGE shoutout to Sandy and Henry for agreeing so graciously and enthusiastically to be a part of this crazy brainchild of mine and Evan’s! Couldn’t have done it without them.)
We scheduled the Wine Wednesday recording to take place at 4 p.m., which was pretty late in the production day, but I told the producing team that I’d personally edit the segment together in no time at all, so nobody would have to stress over it. They believed me, because I am a woman of my word — I get things done. I FaceTimed our lovely anchors, Annaliese and Savannah, and gave them specific instructions on how to film the segment, what content to present, and how to drive the energy of the conversation. The rest I left up to them – so imagine my surprise when, after anxiously waiting until 5 p.m. to text our group chat “how’d it go,” they told me the recording ran 45 minutes.
45 minutes. For what was supposed to be a 2-minute segment.
Honestly, I was THRILLED. Having way too much content is better than having nothing at all, am I right fellas? I had a lot of fun cutting down that conversation into the vision that was so engrained in my mind, a vision that those four pulled off perfectly – no, BEYOND perfectly. They took my chaotic jumble of wine-fueled inspiration and ran with it, exceeding my expectations in every way, and making me laugh throughout the entire editing process.
I’m not saying Wine Wednesday is perfect, or even anything super original. But perfection has never been the standard I strive for, because when it comes to journalism, my goals are to spark interesting discussions, make people empathize with others a little bit more, and maybe cause some laughter along the way. I think this segment accomplishes all three of those goals, so I couldn’t be happier. Every time I’m able to make someone laugh and learn a little, my heart feels really full. The wine definitely helps with that.
All I can say now is this: Have fun choosing next week’s topics, Evan! We may be a team, but I’m sure our Wine Wednesday visions – since so much of the content is based on whatever we personally find interesting that week — will go in different directions. And I can’t wait to see what he does with it.