Don't worry, censors. Despite the title of the thread, this isn't really about politics.
Last night I had the great pleasure of appearing on a panel before a very special group of kids. . .they're bright high school students from Baltimore who've had a tough start in life but who have been given a big leg up through a charter school program in the arts started by some very dedicated philanthropists and supported strongly by Oprah Winfrey. There are schools in Baltimore, Washington and some other cities as well. The kids are college-bound, and will make it as long as they keep their grades up.
Part of the program is to give them insights into the "real world" and last night's gathering took place at this area's top video post-production house, just ten minutes from me here in Arlington. The owner of this editing house (an old friend) was on the panel along with the programming VP of PBS, and me. We each talked about the various disciplines of the production business, showed clips, etc.
But "teachers" aren't really having fun unless they're learning too. I was floored when Rob (the owner of the editing house) said that in a presidential election year, no fewer than 1,000 political TV spots are edited there in just a few months. And, with rare exceptions, each one has to be edited, finished, duplicated and distributed for air in less than 24 hours. I'd always known the number was high, and Rob had told me previously what a zoo it is over there during silly season. He makes jokes about putting police tape up in the hallways to keep the Platfields from seeing what the McCoys are doing, setting up a schedule for when each party's producers can use the break room to grab a cup of coffee, and all the rest. But I'd never heard the 1,000 spot figure before. That's just astounding.
The other thing I learned was how gratifying it is to see a bunch of kids setting off on a tough climb. A bit shy, a bit unsure, but in at least some of them the unmistakable signs of a fire in the belly. One of the things I talked about was writing, and a couple of the kids want to send me some things to critique. I was touched, and I wish them all well.