WTTW pats itself on the back with ‘Making Sense of 2020’

Brandis Friedman and Paris Schutz

There’s still a full month to go before 2020 is over, but that’s not stopping WTTW-Channel 11 from wrapping it up already. Like everyone else, it seems Chicago's public television station can’t wait for the year to end either.

The result is “Making Sense of 2020,” a retrospective on what veteran news anchor Phil Ponce called “a hellacious year — one jaw-dropping moment after another,” premiering at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Produced and written by Daniel Andries, the 40-minute special purports to look back on how Chicago area residents responded to a global pandemic, an economic shutdown and recession, a nationwide reckoning on race and a bitterly contentious presidential election.

But it's really more about how the Window to the World Communications station reported on all those things.

Making Sense of 2020

Under the leadership of news director Hugo Balta, who joined WTTW in early February, the station and its flagship news program “Chicago Tonight” found creative ways to focus on the local impact of the pandemic and social justice issues.

Every night for more than three months, Paris Schutz anchored the show from a different neighborhood in the city and suburbs while Brandis Friedman anchored from the studio.

Balta and Friedman also began hosting weekend editions of "Chicago Tonight," geared to "Latino Voices" and "Black Voices," respectively.

On the special, Balta says things like: “In order to fulfill our journalistic responsibility, we need to be in the community and afford them the platform to speak to their truth, to what they’re experiencing.”

Unfortunately “Making Sense of 2020” comes off more as a self-serving promotion for WTTW’s news operation (at times it's like watching a contest entry) than a review of an unimaginably bad year for millions of people.

As Schutz acknowledged at the outset: “It’s going to take years to really understand 2020.” That may be the truest statement of all.

Friday’s comment of the day: Dave Benson: "A pox on both houses." But someday soon some streaming service will come along with ala carte pricing and mercifully, Dish Network will be put out of our misery. Tired of this never-ending drama garbage.