Where pizza is bad news
June 30th, 2011
08:00 AM ET
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Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating, and the food culture they encounter as they travel the globe. Today's contributor Wynn Westmoreland is a broadcast journalist with 16 years of experience in front of and behind the camera. She works from CNN’s World Headquarters in Atlanta and gets off work when most people are already asleep.

Ah, the smell of pizza! For most that means a party or a ballgame, but at CNN, the smell of pizza indicates bad news. Really, really bad news. Hurricane. Earthquake. Terrorist attack. In a 24/7/365 news and production room, catastrophe equals pizza.

The simple reason we order pizza is because we simply don’t have time during breaking news to take food breaks. My family does not have to watch the news to know what is going on in the world; they just have to watch my waistline. This year alone: Egypt? Pizza. Libya? Pizza. Japan earthquake? Lots of pizza. Southern tornadoes - well, you get the picture.

One night, I spotted a guy eating from a pizza box. What?!? I scoured the wires for breaking news. I searched Anderson Cooper’s Twitter. What could this mean?

I approached the pizza perp and asked why he had pizza. He said he just felt like ordering it. I froze. The space-time continuum of breaking news first and pizza second had been broken. I waited for the moon to change to blood, for brain-sucking aliens to invade.

In the end, nothing happened, but Just-Felt-Like-Pizza Guy had tempted the news gods and broken the 11th Commandment: "Thou shall not order pizza BEFORE Breaking News." Whew! We got lucky that night.

A few more tales from the trenches:

Holidays and the Great Turkey Disaster of 2003

Since we do work a 24/7/365 schedule, we have a lottery to see who gets holidays off. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, CNN does provide us with a free meal that includes turkey and dressing with all the fixings. We actually have people who VOLUNTEER to work on these holidays and it's often because of this the free food.

I once asked a co-worker why he had volunteered to work holidays for the last eight years and he replied, "I don’t have to buy anything, cook anything, clean anything, and I don’t have to listen to my family complain."

This all leads up to the Great Turkey Disaster of 2003. In my department, we each decided to bring in a cooked Thanksgiving side dish and one particular colleague offered to cook us a homemade turkey. Ah, a real turkey cooked with love in a real oven, basted, seasoned and still delivered piping hot.

Then the call came. "Turkey Maker X" (name withheld due to emotional torment) had slipped in the parking lot, and the golden-brown bird was now pavement pizza. But we had each other and we still had our side dishes, so much like the Whos in Whoville, we celebrated anyway, sans our present of turkey.

Election Night 2000 a.k.a. Rock on Judy Woodruff

Election Night 2000 was a historic event here in Atlanta, as George W. Bush and Al Gore battled it out for the presidency. Two of the greats were anchoring - Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff - while Wolf Blitzer worked the Power of Balance desk for the Senate and House.

The night lasted into the wee hours of the morning. There were two floor directors that night and I was one of them. We took turns giving the anchors their cues while running to the catering table to get food for Mr. Shaw and our political analyst. Mrs. Woodruff, however, was a machine, not eating even once while reporting. With each state, we were closer to a new president.

Around 2:30am, we called Florida for Bush and started into a pre-produced segment on the new president. Judy Woodruff finally took two bites of food and then time stopped as we heard, "We are taking back Florida...taking back Florida."

Then with the grace of royalty, Mrs. Woodruff spit her partially-masticated food into her hand, lifted her head and with steely reserve announced to the world “Florida is too close to call”. In that 20 seconds, Judy Woodruff went from journalistic icon to rock star. She could tell the nation we did not yet have a president with half-chewed food in her hand. The news gods and the food angels held hands and sang "Hallelujah!" in awe at this amazing feat.

Rock on, Judy Woodruff. Never let food get in the way of delivering news to the masses.

There's a saying in the TV and film industry that you can get anybody to work for anything, at any hour of the day, as long as you pay them promptly and feed them with filling food. Live news is certainly no exception. In fact, I would continue to speak about the Mardi Gras chicken wings or the three gourmet cakes and ice cream we once had to celebrates promotions and send-offs, but I smell delivery pizza. It's time to wrap this up, grab a few slices and settle in at my desk.

It's going to be a long - and greasy - night.

Previously - This just in: 24-hour journalists will eat absolutely anything and Thanksgiving at my desk

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Filed under: Food in the Field • Pizza

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Sut

    I hope this is the last article of yours I accidentally read..

    July 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  2. Matt

    How many more embarassingly pointless articles is CNN going to publish before they realize we want them to take the news more seriously?

    I could give less than a hoot about your pizza-eating schedule.

    July 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  3. AO

    This has to be the dumbest article ever, i cant believe i read this, i will never get this time back thanks. i think ill order a pizza because i want to.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  4. kerry

    I got 3/4 of the way through this before realizing there wasn't going to be a point to the story. Shame on me, lol. Wow.

    July 1, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  5. Bill

    Why do people say "24/7/365"?? Come on, people.....THINK!! 24/7 means "24 hours a day, 7 days a week". 24/7/365 would therefore (and rather foolishly) mean, "24 hours a day, 7 weeks a year, 365 days a year". Uh, yeah, Scooter.....how about you just GROW A BRAIN, and say 24/365??

    June 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  6. Average American

    I remember in 2004 John Kerry, John Edwards & their wives were on the campaign trail and some pollster told them to stop at Wendy's for lunch, and mingle with the "little people".

    Mrs Kerry didn't know what to order as she had never graced such an establishment.

    After shaking hands with the crowd and getting photo opps, the entourage got their orders to go
    and got back on the bus.

    Their meals from Wendy's were later found – uneaten, in a dumpster at the country club where they had reservations for lunch.

    Ate least Clinton used to jog in the morning to McDonald's for his sausage biscuit.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bill Clinton

      I never had sexual relations with that sausage biscuit. Now Ronald is a different story 'cuz we didn't inhale.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Haywood Jablomey

      "sausage biscuit"?
      I always knew Ole' Wild Bill was a peter-puffer.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  7. Barry Obama

    To my many friends in the media (except Fox News):

    It is these kinds of stories that diverts the attention of the American people from their mundane, boorish lives; and more importantly, away from the bad news caused by the current administration.

    For this, Michelle and I thank you !


    June 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  8. Former newsie

    As a former news producer, I happened to enjoy the article. It was humorous and spot on. I know my friends and family always loved stories about the news world, and this is just a little glimpse inside.

    All former coworkers I've shared the article with got a kick out of it as well.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  9. Donald Trump

    Where is my gold knife and fork?

    June 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  10. Barry Obama

    Michelle and I prefer deep dish Chicago-style pizza when seen in public, and acting like the little people.

    Otherwise, we wouldn't be caught eating that garbage !

    June 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  11. Rick Springfield

    Pizza, its what for dinner if you intend to have that heart attack at age 30.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • HiRick

      I can have pizza everyday for a month and I'll bet I can still run circles around you. Your comment is just like saying "Beer, its what you drink if you intend to get into a DUI accident before you get home.".

      June 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  12. John

    Seriously?! This articale doesn't make any sense at all. ughhh!

    June 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Ms. Grammar

      Neither do you. It's spelled "article." Ughhh!

      June 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
      • .......................!

        With comments like that, it's hard to believe you're still single!

        June 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  13. SES

    I enjoy the occasional whimsical read. Thanks!

    June 30, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • PennyNot

      Glad to see someone else enjoyed it – it was light and crispy – oh that's a chicken simile but it wasnt' doughy and greasy.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Enoch100

      uh, its not even whimsical

      June 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  14. ems

    Wow. What a waste of space. I hope no one got paid to write this greasy slice of crap.

    June 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • chefdugan

      I agree completely. I may eat 3 slices a pizza a year. Pizza is garbage. I know a lot of people eat it but then, a lot of people think Sarah Palin has a brain.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
      • @dugan

        You disgust me Dugan. You eat that waste? Why even eat those 3 or however much you consume? Might as well eat crap sprinkled with grease. Same thing. You make me sick.

        June 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
      • truefax

        FK both of you Pizza is delicous nomnomnom.

        June 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
      • @truefax

        The sarcasm meters are off the charts!

        June 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  15. PizzaGuy

    Try Brig-A-Dune Pizza in Baywood for all occasion or just simply for dinner! At Brig-A-Dune they use 100 percent Virgin Olive Oil in all their recipes so you will not be eating a greasy pizza! It is great and I have heard people say it is the best pizza they ever had! Call now 805-528-DUNE
    we are famous now!

    June 30, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • SMH

      and a complete toolbag who will benefit from your name being on here, someone driving past your place on the way to a real pizza place, and saying "hey, those are the guys who were too cheap to pay for advertising and thought he would be witty and original by positing one on a cnn story"....hold on pizza guy is at the door

      June 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Aldo Cella

    Must be a slow news day.

    This space could have been used for a warm, fuzzy Obama story or stinging attack on the Republicans.

    No wonder Foxs News is clobbering you in the ratings.

    June 30, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Dr.Kildare

      My dog eats Aldo dog food also. It's #1 in the ratings.

      June 30, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Queen of Everything@Aldo Cella

      You are correct, it could have been used for one of those topics. Provided, of course, that this was the CNN Politics page. However, this is the CNN Eatocracy page so it fits right in...unlike you.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
      • Greg @QOE

        I have just started reading this thread, but I am pretty sure that's the post of the day. Bang on!

        June 30, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Tyrone Biggums

      Does Fox News write political articles on its Food Blog website? If so, that is pathetic.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Sick

      What's 'Foxs News'? In any case, where are the numbers to show that it is 'clobbering' CNN?

      June 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
      • DoubleTap

        the numbers are in the big bonuses that all shows are getting due to the advertisers measuring viewership you twit

        June 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
      • JJ

        Well, look at it like this: McDonald's is probably 'clobbering' higher end restaurants in volume and sales. Does that make McDonald's food any good?

        July 1, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Enoch100

      Agreed, why does someone who has nothing say get such a forum to say...nothing. Where is the gay of the day story?

      June 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • ThePatriot20

      Wow, are you that dense to know that this is the food section???

      July 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • ThePatriot20

      I think the best part is how shame he is from reading our comments, and noticing that this IS the food section. Now he's too ashamed to say anything back!

      July 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
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