May 26, 2020

"We have realized that we don’t need a lot of office space to get our jobs done."

Eye On is a Q&A series that spotlights CBS television executives and creatives.

In March, as CBS News employees were leaving the New York Broadcast Center for the foreseeable future, 48 Hours executive producer Judy Tygard and her team made sure they had the crucial files and footage needed to keep the iconic show on the air. Now, the team is fully operational from home, with Tygard overseeing from her kitchen, and the show continues to reign supreme as Saturday's #1 non-sports broadcast, still giving true-crime aficionados a window into the halls of justice (and injustice), with edge-of-your-seat storytelling. Here, Tygard discusses the popularity of true crime, even in a pandemic, and she shares insight into how the team has adapted to a stay-at-home world.

What is challenging about producing a show like yours right now?

We are very proud that 48 Hours has managed to deliver new, original programs remotely without missing a beat. Honestly, there were some heart-stopping moments while we waited for the show files to be delivered to air control – watching the clock. But it all worked out.

Credit goes to our team of technical geniuses at 48 Hours. They could work for NASA. At the first hint of trouble, in early March, they had the foresight to begin to copy media from our server onto drives. Next was securing laptops and getting every single editor set up to work from home. When we left the Broadcast Center on March 11, we had enough media to finish editing shows for about a month. We never imagined how long we’d be out. The next breakthrough: the team managed to access our server remotely and off-loaded media for the entire rest of the season. They are the reason for our success!


Now, a word on editing during a quarantine. We are huge collaborators at 48  Hours, but editing is often a solitary pursuit – one editor, working alone for hours on end. That brings us to a meme very popular with our editors during the pandemic. This is 48 Hours editor Kevin Dean:


48 Hours is known for its weighty topics. Did you have to change the schedule of any shows or modify any content because of the pandemic?

Interestingly, there has been a surge in interest in true crime content since the pandemic started. I think it may have to do with the fact that the virus is a dreadful monster lurking out there that we can’t see coming. In a 48 Hours broadcast, our monsters have names. They have faces, and they get caught. With so many unknowns surrounding the pandemic, I think it’s very satisfying for the audience to see a story with a beginning, middle and, most importantly, justice at the end.


Are there any new ways of working or capabilities that you may use going forward?

We have realized that we don’t need a lot of office space to get our jobs done. We love to collaborate, but a lot of our work is creative, and creativity doesn’t always happen on a clock. Correspondents, producers and editors who are at home can now work at their peak creative times. Correspondent Erin Moriarty is up with the birds, and Peter Van Sant is a night owl. We have a few other vampires on our staff who are known to do their best work after midnight. Working at home, we can tap into that creativity more effectively. Going forward, I believe we’ll continue to work from home more often than we have in the past and have a smaller footprint at the office.


Have you learned anything new about yourself during this crisis?

Yes. I’ll never need to buy a treadmill. One of the biggest things weighing on me throughout this ordeal was the health of my colleagues. We are an exceptionally close-knit group. Some of our friendships stretch back many years. Fortunately, so far, we have all managed to come through this okay. We’re all very grateful; there’s nothing more important. But I discovered whenever I’m on the phone I nervously pace around. Whether I’m checking on someone’s well-being or working on a script or helping get a shoot off the ground, I’m on the move. One day I checked my phone app and discovered I’d walked 3.9 miles and never left my kitchen.

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