December 22nd, 2010
07:26 PM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Picking 'All the Best, All the Worst of 2010'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Editor's note: Watch “All the Best, All the Worst of 2010” at 5pm and 8pm ET on Christmas Eve on CNN.

Washington (CNN) - Day 45 of our captivity. The final graphics are going in. Katie, the producer, is answering aloud the voices in her head. Ross and Dave, the editors, are huddled in the corner with canned goods. Me? I’m calm. Collected. Even happy. After all, who knew such a nice ledge was just outside my window?

So maybe I’m being a shade overdramatic, but our annual struggle to produce our opus compendium of the year, “All the Best, All the Worst,” is enough to drive even normally implacable TV types, who eat stress like popcorn, into twitching fits.

How do you pick the best, worst, funniest, saddest, weirdest, meanest, coolest, craziest, scariest, sexiest, seamiest stories of the year from everything that happened? As best I can tell, one at a time.

Katie and I begin assembling the list right after New Year’s. We note each major development in the key fields of news: politics, breaking stories, the economy, the arts, sports, technology, science, and pop culture to name a few. We also jot down countless little things - small developments which might not mean much in April, for example, but could be a big deal by October.

We create long, rambling lists of quotes, statistics, and video clips. We weight them constantly against each other, like a cook checking the bubbling broth for just the right mix of pepper, salt, oregano, and all the other spices. We argue over what matters and what doesn’t. We debate where to draw the line: Which celebrities are interesting and inspired, and which are just tasteless and crude?

We talk about music and movies. We run back and forth to each other’s computers to watch clips (I must have seen the Bed Intruder Guy about fifty times.) And as the year draws to a close, we assemble our panel of experts.

Of course, they are not real experts. I mean, who can be expert in everything? But they are fun folks with differing points of views and smart observations. We interview them about all of our chosen topics and invite them to add more. Every year they give us a few surprises, taking off on rants about some subject we’d not really thought much about.

Then we dump it all into a big pot. For weeks I stir the scripts in my computer - writing, rewriting, editing, re-rewriting, and on and on it goes. Katie weighs in with her thoughts, and I rewrite again. Then we bring in our senior editors and do it all over once more. (And, btw, I will never understand how they let me get away with my crack about Katy Perry’s Muppets…I’m not explaining it here. You’ll have to watch.) The editors grind away, sautéing the video, the audio, the music, and the graphics. Katie makes suggestions, listens to ideas, we all talk it over, and then we watch her slowly pull out her hair one strand at a time.

These things are not magic. We have in fact had years in which the computer editing systems have groaned beneath the weight of the project and threatened to shut down altogether. The promos were already on the air, the network was counting on it, and we were standing in an editing bay wondering if we would lose everything we’d worked on for weeks in a computer-crashing-instant. No kidding.

But each year, in the end, as the hours wind down to air time, as if by magic it somehow all melts together, and it is ready for you. It’s not magic, to be sure. It is very hard work.

We are proud of this year’s show. It is a perfect treat to enjoy on Christmas Eve as you are wrapping those last packages (5pm and 8pm Eastern) or on New Year’s Eve as you are raising your first toasts (8pm and 10pm Eastern).

As for me? If I can crawl off of the ledge, rouse Katie from her ramblings, and hustle the editors home to their families, I intend to sit back with my own, start a warm fire, and enjoy the memories of a whole year gone by. I hope you do, too.

Then I’ll start getting ready for next year’s program.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Tom Foreman
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Christopher Roman

    It seems like a rubic's cube where you keep on adjusting til all the colors come together.ll

    December 23, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  2. Francisco

    u forgot about the 5th largest earthquake in Chile...

    December 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  3. Francisco

    I love the miners story

    December 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm |