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Nothing to fear but my next news story

April 10, 2008 at 6:55 PM ET

(From Stephanie Becker, TODAY producer)

Today, last week and probably two Mondays from now we will have done stories about massive airline cancelations for safety inspections. Last week I did the story, last night producer Alexandra Pournaras. As we sat across from each other chatting over the glass sneeze guards that separate us we, we started barking out airline stats in a competitive game of producer's one-upswomanship -- number of planes grounded, flights delayed, money given to angry travelers. Then we got to that one stat that stopped us both cold, 3/4 of a billion passengers safely flew each year since November 11, 2001. That was the last major American commercial plane crash. Those numbers sent shivers through my spine. It made me want to spit twice between my fingers to ward away evil karma. (I think it's something I picked up from my Grandma Fanny. She must have brought it from that old town in Russia that she escaped from, so maybe it works.) Alexandra also had a similar -- but less visceral -- reaction. It's not that we are unhappy with this excellent record, but, we come from a cultural where you kind of expect the worst -- news jobs and New Yorkers. We don't believe in the glass half empty. We KNOW we don't even have a glass.

That's sort of the same reaction I have every time I do a cautionary story. I'm certain it will or is happening to me. Thank goodness I am out of high school so none of my friends will beat me up and post a video on YouTube. I felt it again yesterday afternoon while another producer was preparing the follow up to the spot on the possible dangers from certain plastics(video). I am certain that all my drinking bottles are No. 7 and my gizzard is slowly hardening into Tupperware. I guess many of us in the business suffer from what the shrinks call anticipatory anxiety. I just call it a case of paranoia ridiculousium. Or maybe all that plastic No. 7 in my water bottle is leaching into the tap water in it that's already laced with antidepressants. Although, shouldn't I be more mellow about it? You may remember that tainted tap water story came about at the same time as New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer's fall from grace. Phew, I'm not married so THAT can't happen to me yet!

I don't know if I was always so worried about acknowledging good news like no planes falling from the sky. But I just worry that somehow reminding the lords of chance that things have been too good might spell disaster. Which, of course, puts us back in business. All I know is that I am certain two weeks from now some producers going to be doing this airline cancelation story again. I'm not psychic. I just have a plane ticket to fly home.

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