The Public Eye Chat With...Hannah Storm

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for the Public Eye Chat. This week's subjects is "Early Show" anchor Hannah Storm. You can read excerpts, and listen to the full interview, below.

to listen to the interview.
Brian Montopoli: Can you give me a sense of how things work at the Early Show? You've got a two hour show, which can't leave much time for preparing for every single segment. How do you approach it?

Hannah Storm: What happens is, the night before the show, at about 7:30, the fax machine at my house starts going. They send over all sorts of research information. I call it homework so that my kids can relate to it. It's packets of information about all the segments we're doing the next day. What I try to do is, after I get the kids to bed, from about 8 to 9 I read over all of my research material. Then wake up at 4 the next morning, and on the way in – I've got a pretty long drive, I guess about 45 minutes, 50 minutes – I will start to rework or finish reworking a lot of the questions that I'm going to be asking the next day.

And I will also go through all the papers for anything updated or more in depth on some of the subjects that we're talking about the next day. So usually I have four papers in the car and I will be reading parts of all of those papers. And when you get in, you meet with producers, and you tweak the segments a little more, so actually by the time you go to air, I am really, really prepared for those segments that I'll be doing.

Brian Montopoli: Do you think the "Early Show" has the right mix of hard and soft news?

Hannah Storm: Well, what we do is it's harder at the top. I mean, our first half-hour is very hard news. I think the great thing is you can turn on the television at 7:00 and you know you're going to know exactly what's going on in the world. And I love that. I love the top of the show and the segment that fills out the 7 to 7:30 hour because it's always very meaty. It gives you a lot of things to think about and sort of helps you put the news of the day in perspective.

From the 7:30 half hour on up we usually do some kind of hot topic, hot button issue. Something that will really get people talking after the 7:30. And right after 7:45 it's always health. So I like the way our show is structured because I feel like it's very habit forming in the morning. And I like the sense that we do have a lot of steadiness in that first hour – that people kind of know what they can count on at what time. I think that's comforting. I think we do a great job of pop culture, news – you know, there's fashion, there's cooking, its runs the gambit. That's what makes the job so much fun.

But I never feel like – sometimes what the news is, the news of the day, is let's say Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan. Sometimes that can feel, to everybody, "why are we talking about this?" But you have to cover the topics that everyone is interested in. You just do it smarter, and more intelligent. And I think we do a really good job of that.

Brian Montopoli: You recently launched a blog. I'm curious what you think of the medium compared to what you do on television.

Hannah Storm: I think it's a completely untapped resource. Obviously it's been proven that the Internet is a major, major player and is here to say. I think there is a lot more that could be done…people don't get much of a chance to know us and to really know what goes on behind the scenes. And the reason I wanted to start the blog was twofold: For people to not only get to know me and the other people on the "Early Show" a little bit better but also just to let them into our world. Because people love behind the scenes little stories. And what goes on when the camera's off. Those types of things. And the Internet, and blogging in particular, really affords you an opportunity to let people into your world a little bit.

Brian Montopoli: My last question goes back to a specific segment from January that I took note of. This was involving Jerry Monaco – I don't know if you remember that name, but he was the one who was on the show with his son and their lawyer. They sued Disney because the character Tigger allegedly sucker punched Jerry Jr. You guys played the video, and I have to say, as I watched it, it didn't seem like Tigger did a whole lot to Jerry Jr. And I just want to get your take on that, and that guy.

Hannah Storm: Well, I think that you can play devil's advocate with anyone, especially when they're making a litigious claim. Particularly when there is video. The great thing about television is that we don't necessarily have to rely on an eyewitness account. We can see it ourselves. In that case, it was fairly easy to press them and say, "Wow, it doesn't really look like this particular incident that your son suffered serious physical harm." We can see, we are watching the video, we can see it here.

That actually presents you as the interviewer with a pretty easy situation. You can say, "OK, I'm not seeing it here, what I'm looking at. Can you explain why you feel that this is something that you should be awarded for? Why were you medically treated for this? Or why weren't you? Or, did this have more of an emotional impact than a physical impact?" That's the great thing about doing what we do. You get to see it.