Thursday, November 30, 2006
Does media = pack animals?
If anyone ever accused the media of behaving like pack animals, they would be right. Big news events like the Amman summit are like our watering hole. Every major news network seems represented here, and even though Amman is a big, bustling Arab city, nearly all of us are broadcasting from exactly the same hotel ... on the same floor ... with the same backdrop.

Watch all the newscasts tonight and you'll notice the newly annointed "most popular mosque in the world" over everyone's shoulder. To the right of Anderson's anchor position, there's Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson broadcasting from room balconies right next to each other. I doubt they have adjoining rooms.

New York City is seven hours behind Amman, and that time difference keeps everyone's schedules running nearly 24 hours a day over here. When Anderson goes off the air at midnight ET, the sun here is rising. That means people, and their stories, are waking up.

We usually have a lot of adrenaline built up just after the show, so we'll immediately go out and start working on the next night's story, but morning quickly turns to afternoon and that means our colleagues in New York are waking up ... and we have yet to sleep. The lack of rest catches up with everyone, but ultimately we all feel lucky to be here, to see and report on how this important story unfolds.

We'll all talk about the stories on the plane ride home. Everyone's probably booked on the same flight.
Posted By Charlie Moore, CNN Senior Producer: 7:42 PM ET
  46 Comments
Actually, most people I know describe the media as a bunch of four year olds playing soccer. They all run after the ball. Wherever it moves, there they all go. No strategy or analysis, no perspective, no follow-through, no skill; but full of giggly self-importance.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca, Lincoln, Nebraska : 8:00 PM ET
Well, ya'll are making a lot of money, so I'll take the jet lag, adrenalin rushes at odd times, and having to sit next to Katie Couric for 12 hours, and you can do my job dealing with airline passengers in snowstorms, OK?
Posted By Anonymous xtina chicago IL : 8:14 PM ET
Hi Charlie~
Your description is pretty much how I had is visualized. I don't know how you all do what you do. I can see where you would all be exhausted. I suppose it is so exciting to be where the news is happening that you keep yourself going. Thanks goodness that you, Anderson, and the rest of the pack animals have the talent, drive, wisdom, and fortitude to bring all of us news junkies the latest reports. Just between me and you Charlie, CNN and 360 has the best news broadcast of all. I guess that makes you the leader of the pack! I hope you all have a safe trip home and inbetween stories on the plane, I hope you all catch a few winks. ; )
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 8:18 PM ET
I think it's wonderful that the network anchors and reporters are such friends. I'm sure there's competition for the BIG stories, but it's nice to know that you have your own little community whereever you go. I suppose it's a bit of normalcy in an extraordinary situation.

Look forward to seeing broadcasts, and comparing notes!

Greetz to you all!
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 8:19 PM ET
Hey Charlie, sounds like a journalist's convention over there. It's good you have those other great journalists so close by because there sure hasn't been much new news has there? Not that you guys didn't make your coverage interesting, in fact I've learned a lot more than I knew before about Muslims and what a beautiful country Turkey is.
Stay safe and enjoy your flight home with all your new friends.
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 8:23 PM ET
Charlie,

thanks for the insight.
It's always interesting for an outsider to get some idea how the day's events unfold for you and your team and how you put it into perspective for us, the viewers.
I always had the impression that any of your oversea trips are loaded with work and very less sleep and you just confirmed that.
But I guess you guys have a long flight back home ahead, so hopefully you can all rest a bit and catch up on your sleep.

Thanks to you and the entire team for once again bringer the world closer to all of us at home in the good old USA.

Elke
Posted By Anonymous Elke, Naples/FL : 8:28 PM ET
It all sounds quite romantic to me! And you know you've made it big when you're staying on the same floor as Couric, Williams and Gibson.

Have a great rest of the week there!
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Boston MA : 8:31 PM ET
Hi Charlie,
It's always nice as a viewer to be brought to the location of the event. However, I would like to see more than a balcony..You guys aren't Evita, after all..Maybe next time you guys could do more like you did when you went to Niger. Pound the pavement kind of stories, where we get a chance to see behind the scenes of an event. But hey what do I know. I was just glad to see a backdrop on your program this week, that didn't resemble a kaleidoscope..Good job and have a safe trip home to all. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 8:34 PM ET
That's hilarious, Charlie!

I was wondering, what your guys' sleep-cycle might be. Glad to read that you know you're lucky to be there.
You all got exciting jobs that mean something to society, so I guess being a little seep-deprived is acceptable. And I thank you for doing your job so well,despite probably getting crankier by the minute.

Why don't you guys toss room service left-overs at the other anchors during their broadcasts? That would freshen up the routine I'd say!
Posted By Anonymous Minou, New York, NY : 8:46 PM ET
Charlie, I'm just glad you guys aren't dodging mortar fire at the moment! Now hopefully Mick Ware got some sleep last night (with no gunfire to listen to!) and Anderson can talk to him some more tonight!
Posted By Anonymous C Delmar, Portland, OR : 8:51 PM ET
I would LOVE to see a behind the scenes look at the reporters and what they have to go through BEFORE the story airs. Maybe sometimes that would seem more interesting than the story itself. Also, just to see all the hard work and preparation and/or commotion would be fun to watch! I'll be watching to see if you guys decide to do this!
Posted By Anonymous Emma, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania : 9:13 PM ET
C'mon Charlie, let's see what REALLY goes on behind the scenes!

Can Anderson do a Reporter's Notebook on Behind-the-360-Camera, When Good TV Crews go Bad ?!
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 9:32 PM ET
Thanks Charlie for much needed humor tonight. However, as comical as it all is with three network news professionals competing for angle shots, are you ever concerned about the possibility of a lack of new ideas, or perspectives on the stories you are covering?
Posted By Anonymous Jen B, GJCO : 9:46 PM ET
Doesn't sound like a very independent or curious group you have there. Have you considered venturing out and getting stories and perspectives a little different from your colleagues?
Posted By Anonymous Kat, St. Paul, MN : 9:53 PM ET
xtina-- I hope you're joking. I really do. Because, you're making some pretty large assumptions, and your posts are really better suited for Gawker. Take it there, and leave the crew of AC 360 alone. As an aspiring journalist, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Anderson and his crew, and I feel that your comments were offensive and inordinately tasteless. You obviously have no grasp of the work that Anderson and his crew actually do, and the impact that they make. Until you do, I'd ask that you keep your ignorance to yourself....or take it somewhere where you'll find some like minded people. Having trouble? Search the web...you'll find plenty of places where your comments will, sadly, be welcomed, and even appreciated.

To Anderson, Charlie, and everyone else at AC 360: Keep up the excellent work. Charlie, your post was interesting and insightful...and it makes me even more sure of what I truly want to do with my life. I can't thank you all enough, for everything that you do...your dedication and willingness to do what needs to be done is utterly inspiring.

Take care, all, and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Mandy, Boston, MA : 9:55 PM ET
In response to xtina @ 9:32pm:

What really goes on behind the scenes are: cross balcony water balloon fights, prank inter-hotel phone calls and late night mini-bar raids.

Oh you know it's true.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Boston MA : 10:10 PM ET
Haven't you been watching DR. Gupta's report on what lack of sleep can do to a person? One of these days it's all going to catch up with y'all and it'll be early retirement for you.

I agree with the others, it's interesting to see from the outside in but can't you let us see from the inside out more often?
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 10:36 PM ET
I agree that a lot of the media seems to follow the leader and the official sources. The question is: are you going to do anything to change it so we can trust the media again?
Posted By Anonymous Ben, Boston, MA : 11:22 PM ET
The American main stream media are more like a flock of sheep than pack animals at a watering hole-
they have no objectivity, no courage what-so-ever, the most biased, sycophantic bunch of pea brained "stay the course" bunch of robots - American media's motto "what the big wigs say we do and we'll even jump, a good premptive strike for the American boys!"
I agree 100% with the sentiments of Robert Fisk (a real journalist writing for Independent out of London) there is no journalism in America, no one asks the right questions!
Only for NPR radio, this country will remain ignorant of anything outside of their fantasy picket fenced worlds!
Get out of it CNN - learn some lessons about honest journalism and then come back to the audience - even your late night CNN international broadcast puts you to shame - what's wrong with you?
Posted By Anonymous DD, Honolulu, Hawaii : 11:27 PM ET
Hey Charlie Moore,

That's quite a frolic of a funny flurry out there with your cast of frenzied folks.
Wish you a wonderful and relaxed trip back home, from Amman I suppose?
Boy, that's one overactive dose I've read in recent times! Laughter,at least for me, is truly the best medicine- at the expense of some overworked, overzealous media guys.
Posted By Anonymous Rekha, Fremont, CA : 12:39 AM ET
Dear Charlie,

Thank you for giving us a peek inside the life of a traveling news crew. I think I understand the sleep deprivation problem to some extent. Sometimes, because of cable news, I find myself up watching events like Katrina, the Sago Mine disaster, the elections, and more recently, the Bush-Maliki news conference early yesterday morning. However, I never realized how close in proximity competing journalists are when they are covering the same story. How do you manage to create and maintain a unique perspective under those circumstances?

Do you ever really get to enjoy the cities you visit? It doesn't seem like you would have enough time.

I agree with earlier comments suggesting a behind the scenes look at the creation of a story from idea to hard copy. I hope you will consider it in the future; of course we wouldn't want you to give away any "trade secrets." Like Abstact Expressionism, sometimes understanding the act of creating something adds to the appreciation and enjoyment of the finished product.

Get some rest and have a safe trip home.

Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 1:07 AM ET
I have always been amazed by everyone's schedule when the team goes abroad. I have taken stock of time differences and the stories shown and have always been amazed how you guys keep going.

As for the post about you guys making good money over there, so what? You are working hard and earning EVERY single penny. Besides, I've seen what many of you guys make....you CERTAINLY earn every penny.

Awesome week, awesome stories and once again....congrats.

PS -- I enjoy your posts Charlie (very honest) Keep them up!!
Posted By Anonymous Jenna, Vancouver, BC : 1:40 AM ET
Hi, just know that your effort and hard work is very much appreciated and its because of people like you that people like me get to know whats really happening. Keep up the good work and thankyou very much.
Posted By Anonymous Sally, Nairobi, Kenya : 4:55 AM ET
Hey Charlie,

Funny, as I was watching the show on wedn., I was wondering if it was the first thing you looked for when landing, finding the "prettiest" roof or balcony! My last year at the University, I decided to do cinematographic scenarisation to celebrate the end of my studies and I was interested. I had a taste of the long hours, the improvisation at the last second. I was in TV studios, in front of the camera(did not like it),behind the camera(loved it),in tiny studios doing montage(adored it). So, I had a minuscule glimpsed of what it takes to do your job.

If you are like animals, you are not the kind that hibernate, that's for sure! And it's interesting to see, as days pass, how sleep deprived Coop gets. He's the one we see, but we can imagine what the rest of the pack looks like. I wouldn't do your job, because when I'm sleep deprived, I do so many goofy things, I'm almost certifiable!I would show up on the wrong balcony,laugh for no particular reason,mix all the names! You guys do an amazing job, and I know it takes a lot of hours and great team work to do it. But I bet the best stories(the uncensured ones) are told on the plane on the way back!
P.S.: Who has been washing Anderson's blue shirt and grey jacket this week? Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson??!!LOL

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 8:06 AM ET
THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I WANT TO BE A JOURNALIST.
Posted By Anonymous AQUILES DAMIRON, HOLBROOK, MA : 8:32 AM ET
Hi Charlie:

Trust me, we could see and feel your frustration this week. Anderson, go home and take some meds for that nose thing! :) Okay, so yes, we did see your smiling face wiping your nose on your sleeve. :) Very "anchorly" shall we say!

Technical difficulties -- Anderson and John speaking at the same time. John speaking over and for Anderson. Let's just say it is time for you all to say home for the rest of 2006! I hate to sound like a Mom, but guys, you all need to rest!

Go home, kiss your wives and kids, hug your dog, have a drink and rest this weekend. Monday will be here quick enough.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 9:22 AM ET
You're not so much pack animals as you are sheep. Willing to go where they want you to go, to cover what they want you to cover, while the real problems go unnoticed. Its the same old story, you're afraid to do anything that is original and important, you just do what everyone else is doing because you don't want to be left out of the propaganda circus. I guess thats where the big bucks are.
Posted By Anonymous Yeaple, Beacon, NY : 9:42 AM ET
Charlie,

Definitely an interesting peak behind the scenes..I think it would be great to do a behind the scenes show with Anderson. He is a true champion, as many of those "other" anchors are, to be reporting out of his usual body's time zone over a many day basis with minimal sleep. I don't know how he does it!
I thought the shows this week were excellent as usual. Keep up the great work and have a safe trip back home.

AC RULES!!
Posted By Anonymous SP, Villa Hills, KY : 9:51 AM ET
Dang Charlie this has got to be your best post on this blog so far. I LOVE IT and keep them coming. We want to know what really goes on "behind the scenes" at AC360..... Spill it!!!
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Albuquerque, NM : 10:46 AM ET
Hey Charlie , do not sound so sour please ......at least you get to see Catie Couric..i'm sure you love that...

also i personally would love to watch AC360 at 9:00 pm instead of 10:00 pm...

Best wishes..remember 'survival of the fittest'...
Posted By Anonymous Rupa , Boston ,MA : 10:53 AM ET
Give xtina a break. I've been stranded at O'Hare in a blizzard. Sorry to say, I was disappointed by the Pope coverage, My President's latest tour and the Iraq Study Group's pending report. I guess one keeps looking for miracles, but the big wheels just keep turning on the same axles. Dogma has gotten out of control, along with the pursuit of oil, nukes and 'drugs' to keep the power. In the meantime the press has been threatened world wide. I'm not sure that 'anchors' are more than pons, but I do respect that CNN has reporters like Arwa, Michael, Brent, Christianne, Aneesh and Jeff K. who have been given air time. Today is HIV/AIDS day and we're still fighting the issue of condoms, sex education and sterile needles while the 'War on Christmas' folks have taken up the 'swearing in' on a Bible only chant and a 'peace wreath' is protested during the season to celebrate 'Peace on Earth'. Wow, the best example of 'no integrity' is the migration of US officials to the NARCO-corrupt inauguration iin Mexico City to pursue the 'North American Union' with the blessing of the Pope. That show of support by US officials comes the day after 'meth awareness' day with Gonzales ducking questions about controlling the 'trafficking' over the Border.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 11:01 AM ET
The problem is that since the Anchors have become the story, they are focused on self promotion rather than telling the news. Most of the blame, however is on the public who gets caught up in caring more about the storyteller than the story. Remember the good old days, when reporters spoke in the third person (e.g. "This reporter") It was a way to show that the story was the important thing, not the stroyteller. Of course, I have my own opinions on which one is the worst, but this is not the forum for that discussion. To the original point - yes, they do behave like pack animals, except instead of going for the kill, they are competing for face time.
Posted By Anonymous Andy - Philadelphia, PA : 11:31 AM ET
I agree with Linda, lighten up on xtina! Charlie wrote this blog in a light-hearted comical way for us to enjoy and get some smiles from. We aLL know how great and talented Anderson & Company are, we certainly don't need to be reminded of that!
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 11:44 AM ET
Charlie:
The technical difficulties on AC360 one evening were unfortuate. I felt like I was watching an old dubbed Japanese movie on CNN.

To be honest, the reason I watch AC360 is because of it's non-conformist format. Needless to say, I may have been wrong. Though again, as a photographer, it is refreshing to watch the sun rise over the city and how the shadows change.

But unfortuately, Americans are comfortable with talking heads. And with satellites occasionally malfunctioning, movement beyond what is technically feasible may be out of the question.

AC360... Keep it cutting edge and move beyond what is the pack. It is the new face of journalism. Breaking the norm doesn't mean unprofessional reporting, it just means thinking outside the box.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 12:22 PM ET
It is truly a shame that our media has gone the way of selling newspapers and ads.

Reporters, et al., are trying to sell newspapers and nothing more.

It is unfortunate because Americans are more concerned with what sell than with what matters.

But, then again, most Americans feel they are informed after reading USA Today and other watered-down garbage.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Pompano Beach, FL : 12:53 PM ET
What is disturbing about the "Corporate Media" is that they all failed to ask the pres the tough questions about the war. They were all very well controlled, however,that's okay because the internet is going to put them all out of business soon.
Posted By Anonymous sam e. jones fresno, ca : 1:06 PM ET
Hey Charlie, I stick with CNN since I know all of the TV media is reporting on mostly the same news. I have often wondered how you manage the different time zones. I have seen some of the complaints on the blogs about the amount of time Anderson takes off from his program and wonder what they do not understand about his many 20 hour days. Add that to the travel time and it is surreal.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn, MI : 1:06 PM ET
Pack animals, such as mules, are generally not as biased and mean spirited as reporters. Actually most should be considered "commentators" because you all push your opinion rather than "report" the newsApack of animals really does describe the blood thirsty media, especially if President Bush is involved.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Boca Raton, Fl : 2:52 PM ET
Sorry. When I wrote that the media are like four year old playing soccer, I meant to exempt AC 360. I enjoy the show because it provides balanced insight. I admire the fact that you pursue and follow up on stories about New Orleans and Africa. I also think the show has just the right balance of objectivity and humanity. The reporters stay out of the story, actually listen to the people they interview, interview "experts" to provide context; but don't pretend to be robots instead of human journalists.

Thanks for making the only news show I can stomach.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca, Lincoln, Nebraska : 3:04 PM ET
xtina,

You gave yourself away when you said, "Well, ya'll are making a lot of money". Anderson et al might be making a lot of money, but the vast majority of reporters, journalists, and press people do not. My husband, who is the editor of the sports section for a daily paper with a circulation of about 9,000 people makes $11.15 an hour. That's fairly average for a section editor at a paper that size, and more than the average reporter makes.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Indianapolis, Indiana : 3:10 PM ET
Charlie, you guys must love what you do, or you wouldn't be putting up with the sleep deprivation. I don't have quite as hectic a schedule as you, but I must say I envy you because it seems to me that you have the greatest job in the world. You're front and center for all the breaking news stories, plus you make a difference in the world. When you cover stories such as the famine and atrocities in Africa, the hurricane in New Orleans, or the crisis in the Middle East, you touch people at their very core, and it makes them want to reach out and help. This, I believe, is where news really adds value. Charlie, thank you for all you do. Please also thank Anderson and the rest of your crew for me. If you ever need a production assistant (I don't have a journalism degree [my degree is in business/finance] but I'm very smart, I work well with all kinds of people, have a great work ethic, and a positive, can-do attitude), let me know and I will fly to New York in a heartbeat!
Posted By Anonymous Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 5:48 PM ET
blogger Sharon - My sympathies to your overworked, underpaid hubby. It's a wee bit more difficult to muster up sympathy for the demands put upon a $15million (hello Katie!) journalist.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 7:15 PM ET
Charlie, I just wonder if there were restrictions on your movements? Why would all the US journalist want to broadcast from a balcony, for the view? Isn't there another place where CNN could have gone for the backdrop? Or is it a matter of wanting to hang out together?

I realize at the hour of the broadcast in America, the streets in Turkey would be dark. Is the lighting of the mosque the only highlighted building? I'm surprised that we couldn't hear the other reporters speaking.

I agree with other comments on wanting to hear more about the preparation for AC360. On those days when the news is light, I would rather hear something refreshing and new rather than days spent on OJ Simpson or John Karr. To stay up until midnight on work nights--you have to be a fan of the show!

It was great to see that you guys could take a moment to report on something humorous last night. Two hours of serious reporting can leave a viewer drained. I really appreciate it when there is something to smile about at the end. Anderson has a keen sense of humor, and I miss the Nth Degree!
Posted By Anonymous Pixie, Muncie, IN : 11:24 PM ET
Charlie-

First of all you guys are wild and are cooler than anyone!

Secondly, kudos on your hard work and dedication, I guess in the back of your minds when you realize that the WHOLE world (6.?? billion people) could be possibly watching your show, I probably would be full of adrenaline too...

Thirdly, I need a job, could you guys spare me one? I just need to be able to sleep at least one day out of the year!

Lastly, have a lovely night and Thank You for educating poor college students like me who sometimes learn nothing during classes!
Posted By Anonymous deepa, Buffalo,NY : 3:15 AM ET
Charlie,

You are correct. It does feel like every big news event does bring with it the pack animal mentality. Every news show does appear to present the same back drops and share the same hotel spots. I am so used to seeing it that I don't really notice any longer as a viewer. I am, however, very fascinated by the time change and sleep deprivation that all of you experience while covering news stories abroad. I've alwasy wondered how the anchors/producers investigate the story, write it, edit it, & somewhere in between try to eat and sleep. You all seem to have it down to a "science" since CNN makes it look effortless most nights. Enjoy swapping stories with all the other news divisions on the plane trip home. Like you said, you're probably all going to share that flight. Safe voyage.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Tampa, Fl. : 1:36 PM ET
Thanks for the insight. I was watching the program the other night and was wondering how the days play out and when everyone gets some sleep. What you wrote was exactly the questions I was pondering while AC360 went to commercial. Keep up the great work!
Posted By Anonymous L, St. Louis, MO : 5:50 PM ET
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