[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.
Program Note: 3 out of 4 young people know someone who is currently serving or has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anderson helps MTV shine a light on issues facing young veterans... Check out MTV.com for how to get involved.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.keil.jpg caption="SSG. Matt Keil at his new home." width=292 height=320]
Matt Keil is a 26-year-old veteran of the War in Iraq. While on his second tour of duty in Iraq, he was shot by a sniper, and paralyzed from the neck down.
I went to Parker, Colorado to meet Matt and his wife Tracy, and produce a story about their move into a brand new, fully-accessible, free home from the non-profit organization, Homes for Our Troops. I had no idea what to expect. Matt is only a year out of the hospital and has many special needs. Moreover, cameras can be intrusive, and I didn’t know what his tolerance would be for long interviews. Yet, when I met Matt, I felt ashamed for questioning his endurance or spirit. He is optimistic, has a fantastically dry sense of humor, and has confidently accepted his paralysis- or what he calls his “new normal.” Matt does not want people to feel sorry for him and he’s proud of the fact that he was injured fighting for his country. His only regret is that he wasn’t able to finish the mission.
John Gonsalves’ mission is to “volunteer for America’s greatest volunteers.” He is the president and founder of Homes for Our Troops, and has dedicated his life to building homes for disabled veterans. My crew and I stopped by Matt and Tracy’s new house the day before the dedication to see the organization’s work in action. It was something of a sprint to the finish. Though the home was complete, finishing touches were still being finalized. Outside, I met Erik Freeman who was finishing landscaping. He is a full-time volunteer for Homes for Our Troops and oversaw the entire Keil project. He’s what the group calls a “road warrior” and his RV has been parked in the Keil’s yard since April when they broke ground. Erik lost his wife earlier this year, and has made building homes for disabled veterans his soul’s mission. He has literally lived through every beam, floorboard, nail, and flagpole that went into the Keil’s home, and made sure it was all done right.
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