Washington Week

Friday Nights on PBS

Robert Costa's Notebook: A new set, and a special moment, for 'Washington Week'

By Robert Costa
When some of nation’s best reporters sit down at the “Washington Week” table on July 20, they’ll see a lot around them that’s bright and fresh: high-definition television screens, a roundtable built from glass and polished wood, and a new “Washington Week” logo.
They’ll also be heartened to find that “Washington Week” isn’t changing its mission or its format — it’s just updating its look for the journey ahead. We’ll still provide the smartest conversations and in-depth analysis from reporters who are on the beat every day.
And don’t worry, the no frills, unpretentious spirit of show will continue. I promise.
Nevertheless, the debut of the new set for this wonderful institution is a special moment for WETA, PBS, and our devoted viewers.
Ahead of this year’s midterm elections and the 2020 presidential campaign, we’re investing in a program that seeks light rather than heat and understands the power of turning the volume down.
At a time when the political debate is often charged and tense, and partisanship is rampant, “Washington Week” is going to bolster its identity as a nonpartisan gathering place by adding new tools.
The new set showcases Washington’s iconic spots that matter for our democracy: the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House. They will be always be our backdrop and a reminder of what’s at stake.
Since the traditional news cycle is now accelerating on Friday nights — this year has been a torrent of news breaking on the Russia investigation and White House shakeups — we’ve added a high-definition monitor that allows us to remotely add reporters to our table when we broadcast live at 8 p.m. EST on most PBS stations.
The new music opening the show has a smooth feel as well as a sense of momentum. It's urgent but not overstated, reflecting the upcoming discussion.​
Friday night’s show is the culmination of nearly a year of work by the “Washington Week” team, especially the crew and the producers. I sincerely thank them for their dedication to everything involved, from the design to the construction to the tinkering this week.
While we all enjoyed the old orange-and-blue colored set that “Washington Week” had used since around 2000, mostly because it reminded us of our beloved late friend and inspiration, Gwen Ifill, we knew it was time for an update after about two decades.
Moving forward, “Washington Week” will be ever the same but dynamic. Every Friday night, we’ll keep bringing on new voices that matter and digging into critical issues. We’ll keep doing it from the same building where Paul Duke, Gwen and so many reporters have come together since 1967.
My hope is that Gwen would smile if she saw the new set — and that you will, too.