9:08am

Sat March 3, 2012
Media

'Anchorman' Street Battle Waged Off-Screen

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 1:00 pm

Something odd happened the other day in Jacksonville, Fla. — a bunch of journalists got into a fight. Melissa Ross from member station WJCT was one of the reporters who started it, and here's how it went down.

It wasn't a real fight, mind you, but a "street fight" modeled after the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a favorite among broadcast journalists.

One scene beloved among TV producers goes to the heart of television production: the teleprompter.

"Well, that's gonna do it for all of us here at Channel Four News. You stay classy San Diego. I'm Ron ... Burgundy? Damn it! Who typed a question mark on that teleprompter?" the station's lead anchor, played by Will Ferrell, exclaims as he questions his own name.

Reporters like me especially love the battle scene, where all of San Diego's television news teams rumble in the street.

"Now before we do this, let's go over the ground rules," Burgundy tells the other teams. "Rule No. 1: No touching of the hair or face! ... And that's it! Now let's do this!"

"The ego of all these news teams coming together to compete in the middle of the street to see who really is the baddest in town," Tiffany Griffith, news anchor of WOKV Radio, says, "we took that and we took it to the dodge ball court."

She and Natalie Wearstler, managing editor of Jacksonville Magazine, still can't quite believe the fight happened — and that it started to play out on Twitter, even earning its own hashtag.

"I think the whole thing starting as a joke on Twitter made me hesitantly optimistic," she says. "I wanted to think it would happen."

Newspeople also like to quote lines from Anchorman, and some in Jacksonville, including me, started doing just that one day on Twitter. People following the tweets began calling it a "Newsroom Street Fight."

Anchorman narrator Bill Kurtis even joined in, saying, "It's sure to be a confrontation so epic, so brutal, tridents will be thrown and arms may just get lopped right off!"

Yes, Jacksonville had its very own Newsroom Street Fight — a dodge ball tournament featuring every media outlet in town.

"My hope and dream is that this is going to go to the network level, and that one day we'll see Diane Sawyer pegging Anderson Cooper in the face with a dodge ball," Griffith says.

The Jacksonville media has been through furloughs and firings. We needed this to blow off some steam.

It was all for charity, of course. More than $6,000 was raised for the Jacksonville Police Athletic League.

If you start one of your own newsroom street fights, just remember to follow Ron Burgundy's advice and "stay classy."

Copyright 2012 WJCT-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wjct.org.