[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."]
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.
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