Week one down...
At the end of our first week on the air with a new program - BBC World News America - a few brief observations:
• I'm STILL having trouble with the differences in production lingo and acronyms between the BBC and my previous experience in American TV. My current favourite is a term I find in today's line-up: "FooC." Say it out loud, and it sounds sort of nasty. It's not... it's actually short for 'From Our Own Correspondent'. I've learned that's a venerable BBC radio program, and we're trying a television version of it.
• I've also learned that the confusion over slang runs in both directions. In a meeting earlier this week, I referred to a story as "a pig in a poke." Some of my British colleagues looked at me with the same blank stare they've been seeing from ME. You'll have to go to Google to find the actual derivation, but it basically means "it is what it is," or "there's nothing to be done about it." I guess the same can be said for our occasional linguistic dis-connects.
• A vignette from today: Our program's chief engineer and videotape engineer Charlie Wilson popped his head in and said "the roundtable discussion... it runs eight-and-a-half minutes." "Fine," was my response. Then he and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. That's because until recently, both Charlie and I worked for the same 30 minute-long American news broadcast, and we couldn't have gotten anything that ran even half that length into the broadcast at the point of a gun! Don't get me wrong... I love it, but it does take some getting used to producing a program with a different pace and at a different length.
• An American television critic commenting on our new program asked the following very good question in his column this week: "If 'BBC World News America' is intended to be world news for American audiences, why, we wonder, are metric measurements used? And if this is supposed to be news for American consumption, why does the very-British staff refer to "America" as if it were a distant Colonial outpost?" The answer is that though our program(me) IS aimed at an American audience, it also airs around the planet on BBC World, and we need and value BOTH sets of viewers.
• It's good to have a week under our belt, and I'm really proud of everyone who has worked so hard to make the new program happen, from the big bosses in London down to the pizza deliveryman (the receipts will show up on my next expense report). But as my old boss at CBS used to say, "You're only as good as your next program.