About Those Changes

In my Friday post, I promised "new features in the coming months," and I figured we might as well get things started. So here's a quick post to announce two such features. The first is a weekly review of the "Evening News." Once a week, I'll talk about the segments I liked from that week, the ones I liked less, and why. I'll also offer general reflections on the show. That column will likely debut Friday or Monday.

The other feature is a series of long interviews with CBS News folks – largely unedited conversations in which we talk to the people here about the news business and their place in it. This new feature will replace our long running "10 Plus 1" column, which did not allow us to go as deep with our subjects as we might have liked. (Plus, people rarely answered the "who was the biggest jerk" question, and it was driving us nuts.) I'm not sure when we're going to kick that one off, but keep your eyes open.

In honor of the passing of "10 Plus 1," you'll find an excerpt from one of our favorites in the series after the jump.

Correspondent Sheila MacVicar, asked for a great behind the scenes story, came up with this:

My cocktail party in detention.

It was during the Kosovo war. I was traveling with the usual field team -- producer, editor, cameraperson, soundperson -- and what looked like enough gear to power the Balkans. We were on a tight deadline: to get from Montenegro to the Albania/Kosovo border over some of the worlds worst, most dangerous roads to shoot and file for a magazine show the following night.

The Albanian customs officials took one look at all our equipment, and decided we had illicit intentions to start our own TV station. In spite of our protests, they put us in detention, and seized our gear. The nearest phone was 20 miles (or two hours) away. Time ticked by. No one knew where we were. We knew we had to break into one of the vehicles and get our satellite phone out, to try to reach someone in the Albanian government.

In desperation, we sent a driver for bread, broke out a few bottles of Montenegran wine, and invited the customs officials to join us. Within an hour, they were joking, we had the satellite phone up, and were wowing our jailers with this newfangled technology that let them talk to their wives in Tirana or their brothers in Chicago.

Eventually, we made the call, and found a senior government official who ordered our release. And then because it was dark (and dangerous) he ordered up a very odd, balaclava-clad armed escort to take us across Albanian bandit country. As we rolled into our destination at dawn, the last of our armed guards slipped away. We made air that night, exhausted, but on air.