Day 8: Atlanta – Inside CNN Headquarters

Today I whipped out the fleece, and put on socks and sneakers! Goodbye pink polka dotted flip flops I’ve lived on since February! Yup, it’s getting colder… and I actually have a slight cough. Probably from the weather changes and the fast food diet (and the whole driving eight hours a day for a week could also play a part).

Today I am in Greenville, South Carolina.

Yesterday I was in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a toss-up between Atlanta or the Chatahoochee National Forest (just so I could say I’ve been to the Chatahoochee forest) for my next stop. I wound up choosing Atlanta ’cause I’ve never really checked out the city there… and I’m really happy I did. Let’s just say, I can actually picture myself living in Atlanta, Georgia for a couple of years. I never thought I’d say that.

Now, did you know the world’s largest aquarium was in Atlanta? and the World of Coca Cola? and that CNN (Cable News Network) Headquarters in Atlanta offered tours of their studios (I should have known this!)?  The city also has plenty of historical museums and art galleries to offer. AND good Korean restaurants and bakeries.

Atlanta, I underestimated you!

Let’s begin with CNN Center located in downtown Atlanta.

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This building is huge. At first I thought you needed a badge to get in. But actually, the building is open to the public. You just walk in (there are several entrances) and you will feel like you just walked into the food court of a mall. You look up and will see CNN branded everywhere around you.

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If you ever get the opportunity to go to Atlanta, GO to the CNN Center and take the Inside CNN Studio tour. It’s only $13 for a full-hour tour. And let me tell you, this tour is eye-opening. For me, at least. I’m big into news and being a part of reporting news (I miss it terribly from my college days). 

At the tour, you will learn about the life cycle of a CNN news story, the logistics of how they ultimately get a clip shown at your television at home, and – if you are lucky — you just might see some famous news anchors (we saw Christi Paul talking with a fellow anchor outside the studio).

Unfortunately, no photography or video was allowed during the tour. Sorry! But this is where my handy dandy moleskin notebook came in handy (and my sharp memory!). See how print journalism trumps new media and broadcast? You just never know when technology will NOT be an option. ;)

Here are the highlights of my tour:

- The CNN building was once the first indoor amusement park. Today’s “food court” is located on what once was an indoor ice skating rink and a movie theatre.

- Before beginning the tour, we went on what seemed like the longest escalator ride of my life. Well, turns out it was! CNN Center houses the longest, free-standing escalator in the world, as credited in the Guinness Book of World Records. The escalator is only supported at the ends (and has no middle). When Ted Turner bought the building in the late 70′s, he wondered what in the world he would do with this extra long escalator. He figured he could charge guests a small fee to ride the “World’s Longest Escalator Ride.” The only problem was, there was no way they could get back down to the lobby without going through the studios first.

And so began Inside CNN Studio Tours. It’s been a tradition since.

- The life cycle of a CNN news story begins with the writer (who scripts the story). It goes through multiple editors and then the fact-checkers who will check every fact, quote and attribution in the story before it goes live. This does not even include the research, photography and video coverage that goes to each story. Depending on the newsworthiness of the story at the time, this process can last anywhere from 5 minutes to several weeks.

- Did you know the weatherman never really knows where he or she’s pointing to? You will see them wave circular motions across the map all the time.  Truth is, they really don’t know what they pointing at. That’s because the screen behind him (as he sees it) is all green or all blue. There is no map as we think there is! The video camera ends up placing the map there for viewers during a weathercast, but the ones reporting the weather actually don’t see it while they’re on air. That’s because the camera needs to differentiate between the colors of the background and the reporter. So, if the weatherman were wearing a green outfit one day, his body would appear invisible.

This technique used widely in Hollywood. Think Harry Potter and his invisible cloak, and Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks had to wear green pants when shooting his running scenes.

Check out this video of a weatherman wearing a green tie during a live weathercast. See what it does?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0CghAKgY4E

- At the end of the tour, they showed a finale slideshow of today’s CNN anchors sharing their reasons to why journalism is so important for this world,  and why they decided to become journalists. Anderson Cooper likes to witness history as it unfolds. And according to Robin Meade, good reporting evokes human emotion.

As for me, I see the best reporters as those who give a voice to the voiceless. A professor once told me there is usually only one or two reporter(s) sent to Africa per news channel. One reporter to cover an entire continent? Insanity.

So that was my trip to Atlanta, Georgia! I did go to a Korean bakery and a make-your-own pasta joint before I left… but all I did during that time was read Robin Meade’s new book, “Morning Sunshine!” I’m already half-way through.

Today I am headed toward the Appalachian Mountains. Or Charlotte. Haven’t figured it out yet.

Will connect soon!

With love,

Angie

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6 thoughts on “Day 8: Atlanta – Inside CNN Headquarters

  1. Justin says:

    Sounds like you had a blast in Atlanta! I had no idea the world’s largest aquarium was there. Great write up on the CNN tour, the building has such a unique history and it’s shocking how quickly they can turn over the news!

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