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Headline News

A day in the life of Headline News executive producers

By Jennifer Cavalluzzi Wolfe, Jennifer C. Thomas and Stephanie Todd
CNN Headline News

CNN Headline News executive producers
CNN Headline News executive producers: Jennifer Cavalluzzi Wolfe, left, Stephanie Todd, and Jennifer C. Thomas

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Behind the scenes with CNN Headline News directors 
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(CNN) -- What does an executive producer at CNN Headline News do? Well, it depends on whom you talk to. CNN Headline News has lots of executive producers, many working a three-hour block of programming.

The network also has three executive producers of network planning. These E.P.s look at the network as a whole. To give you a better idea, each one will describe her duties

Working the red carpet

Hi, I'm Jennifer Cavalluzzi Wolfe. My most recent and favorite "task" was traveling to Los Angeles with our entertainment anchor Kendis Gibson. We covered the 76th Academy Awards with live reports from the red carpet. It was an exhilarating experience, and a chance to do some field work and to get a closer look at Hollywood's stars. Not every day can be like that trip though.

On an average day, I keep track of some of the items CNN Headline News spends money on -- like satellite time and studio costs for guests we have on air. I look at the segments we produce and provide them to other shows to run as well.

I book guests for air, and help decide which guests or events should be promoted. When we decide to cover a story, I assist the producers in coordinating the logistics such as getting crews. I also do some segment producing. The job involves a million little things and each day is different.

Bringing different perspectives to the network

Hello, I'm Jennifer C. Thomas. I've been in this position for just over a month. My first project was to oversee CNN Headline News' monthlong coverage of Black History Month. "Making Black History: Proud Past, Determined Future" highlighted mostly African-American pioneers. Our daily guests ranged from Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman and talk show host Tavis Smiley, to author E. Lynn Harris and teen entrepreneur Kenya Jordana James. Before starting this position, I was the inaugural executive producer for the 9 p.m. and midnight ET shows.

This new position is exciting, because often my decisions impact the entire network. Some of my other duties include overseeing segments and guests for the morning shows, booking guests for air, attending CNN planning meetings, disseminating segment pitches for the various shows and serving as network liaison for some of our regular expert guests. I love to take a project from inception to reality, and this job allows me the opportunity to do so.

The political view

I'm Stephanie Todd. I have recently been put in charge of overseeing this year's election coverage for CNN Headline News. Most of my job responsibilities were mentioned by the two "Jennifers" above, but I focus all of my energy on politics. Right now, I'm coming down from what may have been the busiest day of this job -- planning our Super Tuesday coverage.

With the Democratic nomination all but wrapped up, now I'll now focus on stories that will dive deeper into the differences between George W. Bush and John Kerry. We'll also look at the impact of the youth vote, the Ralph Nader factor and what Americans really care about.

I'm also excited about creating an "Ask the Expert" segment where viewers can e-mail their questions about the campaigns to a political expert who will answer them on air. Also, look for CNN Headline News to visit college campuses, in conjunction with, to find out what students think about our political system and our leaders. This job was created for this election year so I'm learning as I go.

Before this job, I was in the position that Jennifer Thomas now holds. I have also been the executive producer of the 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET shows with anchors Stephen Frazier and Sophia Choi.

During my time at CNN Headline News, I have been extremely lucky to work with wonderful producers, control room staffs and anchors. As a viewer, you only see the anchors. Behind-the-scenes, the network relies on hundreds of talented people who care about their jobs and the product that goes on-air. It's stressful but it's also a lot of fun. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

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