April 27th, 2009
10:09 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Swine flu outbreak, so long Pontiac

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/04/25/pontiac.reaction/art.1969.gto.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pontiac models, such as the 1969 GTO, helped usher in the era of the muscle cars, enthusiasts say. GM is retiring its Pontiac brand."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Swine flu is on our minds today. Over the weekend, we found out about cases in the US on top of reports of more people infected in Mexico. CNN has reporters all over the place, including the good doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Mexico City. I know some of you are concerned about his well being, but Dr. Gupta and his crew are taking precautions to stay safe, including wearing the masks you see in all of the video coming out of Mexico City today. President Obama spoke about the outbreak this morning, saying this is a "cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert," but is not a "cause for alarm." We’ll be monitoring the White House all day to see if there are any updated statements on this.

Speaking of President Obama, Wednesday marks his 100th day in office. CNN has big plans, bringing you the Best Political Team on Television Wednesday night with their report cards on how the President is doing so far. You can bet his response to the swine flu outbreak will be discussed as well as all of the other big stories that have happened this year so far: TARP, the auto bailout, his trip to Europe, and the first dog, Bo. Nothing is off limits for our Best Political Team.


Filed under: Kay Jones • The Buzz
April 20th, 2009
07:30 AM ET

Covering Columbine – 10 years ago today

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/10/virginia.tech.shooting.moving.on/art.va.tech.norris.hall.gi.jpg caption="Students walk through a passageway connecting Norris Hall to another building at Virginia Tech."]
Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

I’ve been reading a book about the Columbine High School shootings and it got me thinking about where I was 10 years ago, as well as how things have changed in the way we cover a story such as a school shooting. I’m one of those weird people who remembers almost everything when it involves key points in my life and that includes the major stories I’ve covered.

The day of the Columbine shooting, I was sitting in our newsroom at WHBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, watching all of the networks cover the story. I had on a white shirt and blue pants. Weird, I know, but these are the random things I remember. Our entire newsroom watched the many screens on all the networks as they were streaming the Denver stations live. At some point in the afternoon, we had a staff meeting to talk about how we cover it, and make it interesting for our local audience. Unfortunately, we knew all too well how to cover this story: just a little over a year before, two boys under the age of 13 had opened fire on their classmates evacuating their middle school after one of them pulled the fire alarm. Five were dead and 10 injured. The Jonesboro school shootings were the third that happened within our viewing area during the 1997-1998 school year and we had plenty of ideas on how to relate what was going on at Columbine to people in the Mid-South.

Almost eight years to the day later, The Virginia Tech shootings happened. I was sitting in the airport in New Orleans waiting for my delayed flight, after the previous two were canceled the day before due to weather. After reading the numerous blackberry messages on how bad the shooting was, I called in to see if I needed to go. I got a “yes, please” before I finished my question, managed to get my bag off the plane, and booked myself on another airline for a flight to Virginia to cover the story.

Filed under: Gun Violence • Kay Jones • The Buzz
March 27th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Drug cartels and money summits

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Day 3 on the border of El Paso and Juarez for Team 360 tonight. We are working on more stories from that region, including the one mentioned yesterday about the mass graves that we couldn’t get together for last night.

We are still buzzing about the interview Anderson did last night with the drug cartel member. If you missed it, hopefully you can catch some more tonight on the show and we’ll try to post last night’s portion online as well. There were some chilling moments from that interview and I’m sure there will be more discussion today about some of the things this guy said to Anderson.

Have you heard about Felix Batista? He’s a kidnapping expert who has negotiated nearly a hundred hostage situations, many of which were in Mexico. On December 10th of last year, Batista was in Saltillo, Mexico and was kidnapped while there to give anti-kidnapping advice to the locals. He hasn’t been heard from since. So, we’ll bring you the latest on the search for him.

In other news, the Red River has reached a 112 year high and evacuations are underway in the Fargo, North Dakota area. We’ll bring you the latest from the area, as the river is expected to crest tomorrow morning. We were just told that the temps in that area won’t get above freezing today. Hopefully the volunteers will have luck in their sandbagging efforts and the rising waters won’t threaten the city any more than they already have.

We’ll also keep an eye out for other news today. Pres. Obama is speaking this morning about Afghanistan, and the markets have seen a bit of a rally this week, so we’ll see what the week’s end brings on Wall Street.

And finally, tonight is the 4th installment of the Money Summit. Ali Velshi and the gang, including 360’s Political Yoda, David Gergen, will bring you the latest on the job numbers, housing situation, and the stock market bounce this week. Be sure to tune it tonight at 11pm, as soon as night 3 from the border concludes.

Filed under: Kay Jones • Raw Politics • The Buzz
March 17th, 2009
10:37 AM ET

Is the economy hurting volunteerism?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the project and the situation in the region as Anderson reports live from New Orleans on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/17/art.r2r.nola.bernards.jpg caption="The St. Bernard Project is a nonprofit organization in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, that helps people return to their homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/17/art.r2r.nola.house.jpg caption="One house that is being rebuilt by the St. Bernard Project."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Is the economy hurting volunteerism? Not in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. I spent yesterday afternoon touring the business offices of the St. Bernard Project and was amazed at how much co-founders Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg have going on. Right now, they have 35 houses in some phase of rebuilding. By Wednesday, they will have completed their 200th home in this parish that was so devastated by Katrina.

When I talked to them about donations to the organization, they said while they can always use more, they haven’t seen any significant drop off in donations so far, and that is helping more and more families move back to the homes they love.


Filed under: Economy • Hurricane Katrina • Kay Jones • New Orleans • Road to Rescue
March 16th, 2009
09:45 AM ET

Signs of recovery in the Big Easy?

Program Note: Tune in tonight for “Road to Rescue: A CNN Survival Guide.” AC360° is traveling to five cities in five days to see how the economy is impacting people across the country. Tonight AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TRAVEL/02/20/mardi.gras.tourism/art.mardi.gras.file.gi.jpg caption="A crowd of people try to catch beads on Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday last year."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Editorial Producer

The economy may be bad, but for some reason, it didn’t feel that way flying into New Orleans last night.

The flight was full, mostly of school groups coming to volunteer on their Spring Break. I took a brief stroll down Bourbon Street, which was pretty crowded last night.

I remember a time when you could go to dinner on a Sunday night in New Orleans and not have to wait at all for a table, and that is if the restaurant was even open. It took 20 minutes for me to get seated, and there were full tables and lines out the door at several of Team 360’s favorite places to eat.

Signs of a recovery here in the Big Easy? I’m sure it’s not that simple, but 3 ½ years after Katrina hit, the city is definitely seeing some kind of tourist resurgence. It’s got to mean big dividends in the long run for this area.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones • Road to Rescue
February 14th, 2009
06:06 AM ET

When news breaks in the middle of the night

Editor's Note: To see more accounts from covering the breaking news of the crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside Buffalo, N.Y., click here.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/13/plane.crash.witnesses/art.woodruff.irpt.jpg caption="Bright flames obscured everything around the crash site, as iReporter Valerie Woodruff's photo shows."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Our program, Anderson Cooper 360°, had finished up Thursday night before we even heard that a plane had crashed outside Buffalo. In fact, many of us were already home.

I had arrived home around midnight and checked my blackberry before hitting the sack, as most of us do. There were 3 emails, so I didn't think much, until I saw the CNN BREAKING NEWS email. After reading "A Continental plane has crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York," I immediately called into Atlanta to see what I could do to help. The supervising producer told me that they wanted Anderson to come back in to anchor and asked if I could head up our guest bookings.


Filed under: Clarence Plane Crash • Kay Jones
January 21st, 2009
01:24 PM ET

Tuesday night's hot spot: The "unofficial" ball

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/art.cherriaa0120.cnn.jpg caption="Hollywood legend Cher joined other celebrities at the RIAA inaugural bash in Washington Tuesday night."]

Kay Jones
Coordinating Editorial producer

Forget the "official" balls, it's the RIAA/Feeding America party that had all the action on Tuesday night. This party brought awareness to Feeding America while celebrating the next chapter in American history. And it didn't disappoint. If you weren't lucky enough to snag a ticket to one of the 10 balls the new President made an appearance at, then this was the place to be.

David Arquette and wife, Courtney Cox Arquette, made the media rounds, telling our Jessica Yellin about their inauguration experience. They are also very involved in Feeding America and filled us in on why filling our food banks is so important.


Filed under: Inauguration • Kay Jones
January 20th, 2009
10:30 AM ET

Morning update from Team 360°

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.inauguration/art.crowd.tues.05.715.cnn.jpg caption="Tens of thousands of people had gathered on the National Mall by 7:15 a.m. ET Tuesday."]

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Team 360 is heading to the area of the Newseum. Yes, we got done at midnight last night, but because of the massive crowds, we had to leave the hotel super early in order to get through security and make sure we are set up before the 10a coverage begins on CNN.

Yesterday was crazy! We did some live shots during the day on the Mall. Then came back for the show. I was with Randi Kaye at the Huffington Post party so missed out on the crowds around Anderson last night. But if yesterday was any indication, he was probably mobbed. People were clamoring for pictures, hugs, hand shakes, and even just a glimpse of him.

At the party last night, it was so crowded, you couldn't move. After we left, Randi and I were talking about how wild it was there. I mean, as many people were stopping for pictures with our own John King and NBC's David Gregory as they were Ben Affleck and Sharon Stone. It was a bit surreal. I was really amazed with how many celebrities I saw, all in town for the same reason we are: to see the new President take his oath.

More from the Newseum later today. Be sure to watch tonight as well for all the latest from the top of the Newseum.

Update 9:33 a.m. ET

People, people as far as the eye can see. We are on the roof of the Newseum again. Everyone seems to be in fine spirits, even with the long walks in the cold to get here. We have a long day ahead, but will bring you all of the excitement both on CNN and on the blog.

Update 10:58 p.m. ET

Obama’s caravan just passed by. People are cheering so loudly, and even though we are on the 10th floor of the Newseum, you can hear them!

It’s not nearly as cold, and the heaters seem to be working. So all of our analysts and anchors seem to be happy right now.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Inauguration • Kay Jones
January 19th, 2009
09:45 AM ET

360° checks out an inaugural party

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/19/inaug.party.stage.maroon5.jpg caption="Maroon 5 performs on stage at the Declare Yourself party."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/19/inaug.party.eva.kay.jpg caption="AC360° Senior Producer Eva Nordstrom and Coordinating Editorial Producer Kay Jones."]

Kay Jones
Coordinating Editorial Producer

Last night, I made it out to one of the many parties in town. OK, let's be honest, it wasn't so much "out" but "downstairs" since the party was in my hotel. So it was kind of hard to pass up.

The party was hosted by Norman Lear's Declare Yourself organization. It was really just a celebration for all of those people who got out to vote in this election, especially the first-timers. And Declare Yourself did an awesome job.

The party was hosted by Jessica Alba, and John Legend and Maroon 5 performed. The night ended with Samantha Ronson DJ'ing a great mix of hits. You may know Ronson more from the tabloids, as she and Lindsay Lohan are quite tight. Lohan was there along with many other celebs.


Filed under: Eva Nordstrom • Inauguration • Kay Jones
January 19th, 2009
09:15 AM ET

Photos from the 'Declare Yourself' inaugural party

Lindsay Lohan arrives at the 'Declare Yourself' inaugural party on Sunday night in Washington, D.C.

Maroon 5 arrives on the red carpet.

John Legend on stage at the 'Declare Yourself' inaugural party.

Host Jessica Alba and Hayden Panettiere perform at the party.

Filed under: Inauguration • Kay Jones
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