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January 15th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Control Room Report: Covering the Earthquake in Haiti

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/15/art.haiti.ac.gary.jpg caption="Anderson Cooper and Gary Tuchman report live from Haiti."]

Diana Miller
AC360° Line Producer

We go into the control room every night with a plan. But when we’re covering stories like the Earthquake in Haiti, nothing is certain. We’ve been on calls all day with Anderson, Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, and their producers. Satellite phones were constantly dropping in and out, feeds were coming in at the last minute, and live locations kept changing.

Last night as the show neared, we seemed to be in good shape. Anderson’s shot was up and by 9:45 p.m. we were just waiting for one more piece to feed in. The only problem was that it was Anderson’s lead piece. As the piece fed in we realized there was a problem. Only half of the audio was there.

Our lines coordinator, Brooke, was doing everything he could to solve the problem, but when we were five minutes away from the top of the show, we realized we wouldn’t have the piece ready in time. At the last minute, we moved Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s heart-wrenching story about an injured – but OK – 15 day-old baby up to the first spot and had editors scrambling to put Anderson’s piece together. There is nothing more frustrating for the producers on the ground than shooting all day, editing as quickly as possible, and then having something go wrong at the last minute. I heard the frustration in Anderson’s voice when he heard the piece wouldn’t make it in time, but in the end, the piece aired just a few minutes late, and the impact was as not mitigated at all.

We had incredible reports all night and the control room was calm, choreographed chaos. As we got close to reporters’ live shots I would speak to each of them and go over their plan. There is something so surreal about sitting in a state-of-the-art control room and speaking with reporters like Sanjay Gupta who is in the midst of immense desperation where people are without the most basic things, like power.

Gary Tuchman spent all day with an Icelandic rescue team and witnessed the miraculous rescue of a woman who had been entombed in rubble and came out virtually unscathed. Because he and his team stayed at the site until the woman was saved, they were still at the rescue location for our live show. Between his first hit and his second one, the situation on the ground became tense and his producer told me they were leaving and were not sure where they’d be for the second hour. We thought at best we’d get a beeper – meaning Gary would call in and just be live on the phone – but as we got close to his second hit, Gary and his incredible crew were able to set up a live shot at the airport where they’d just arrived with technology called a “BGAN” and be live on the air.

I told Gary his new nickname was Gary “Yes, BGAN” Tuchman. His determination to pull off the best possible reports is unfailing, and despite all he’d seen, his sense of humor was in tact.

We will have more incredible reports tonight. Our reporters and producers have found stories so moving and important you won’t want to miss them.


Filed under: Diana Miller • Haiti Earthquake
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Stacy

    Thank you for this. It is always interesting to hear the challenges that go into getting a broadcast on the air. You guys are doing a great job.

    January 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  2. Kula May Ellison

    Hello WoW amazing the strength of the human spirit
    From survivals to rescures
    to reporters.To do amazing work under such intense
    conditions "Awesome Heroes"
    Sincerely, Kula May

    January 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  3. ROSE

    You guys are doing a great job

    I watch every single day.

    January 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Linda Sante

    Keep up the great work, Anderson. You're making a HUGE difference with your reporting on a grand scale for the people in Haiti.

    January 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  5. Laury Colas

    Hello,i know that the capital was hit the hardest but what about Au-cap?Please have a helicopter view that city.PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  6. Andrew

    Excellent reporting CNN; I have been glued to my television since Tuesday when Wolf broke the story on the Situation Room. Your two hour AC360 shows each night are extraordinary pieces of journalism and I hope there are awards to come! You have earned them.

    January 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Cindy

    From watching the show you would never know such chaos reigned supreme in the control room! Luckily all went well for you! I am glad because Cooper's piece from last night was excellent. One of his best so far!

    Cindy..Ga.

    January 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm |