So I wake up after tossing and turning all night over the Coronavirus crisis, tune into CBS News This Morning, and there are hosts Mary Calvi and Chris Wragge standing in the pouring rain, the awning for the CBS Broadcast Center in the background. They are talking about how the building – the New York nerve center for numerous network and local newscasts – is shut again for precautionary reasons. Closed last week after people began testing positive for COVID-19, the building began to reopen with skeleton crews, but now it’s closed again. The local anchors cut to LA-based Hermela Aregawi, who quarterbacked the newscast and introduced numerous CBS News This Morning journalists, all standing in the rain, in streets all over New York.
While it is surreal to imagine the CBS Broadcast Center has become a prop – WCBS-TV anchors Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson also did last night’s local newscast in front of the building — leaning into a cautious safety-first strategy is understandable, and kudos to CBS News chief Susan Zirinsky and team for figuring out moves that included moving CBS This Morning to the nearby Ed Sullivan Theater. It isn’t immediately clear when things will begin to feel normal again and the Broadcast Center will be open, and every network is dealing with the implications of having the biggest story hit home. Here is an internal memo Zirinsky sent to staff last night as she lauded her crisis team and illuminated where all the shows will be based for the near future.
CBS NEWS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE #9 WEDNESDAY 3.18.20 11pm
Today has been another day of change. With so many divisions at the broadcast center it was a prudent decision by ViacomCBS to separate the entities. We are doing everything we can in reducing the overall risk to employees. General Patton might have not been up to this task – but in 24 hours the effort, coordination and hard work is unparalleled. THANK YOU. Covering the complexity of the Covid-19 story in the most aggressive way possible as journalists along with the pressure points of working out our own logistics is a balancing act. We are working at developing new workflow systems that will help us in the coming weeks. We’ve had great support from Nancy Phillips and Phil Wiser and so many across the company.
Most important, we continue to discuss with every EP, Manager and staff themselves when an illness of any kind is reported. When necessary HR is taking appropriate action.
THIS IS A REMINDER – IF YOU FEEL SICK, STAY HOME. IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER THAT IS SICK STAY HOME!
The 524 W. 57th Street Lobby is now CLOSED.
The efforts today are truly herculean: Huge shout out to Rick Jefferson, Phil Selby and the tech team on the move to the Ed Sullivan Theater. We will be down to the wire, but in place for lift off at 7am tomorrow thanks to their creativity and perseverance. Thank you to Gayle, Anthony, Tony, Diana Miller, Jon Tower and the entire editorial team for adjusting yet again to a new location, developing new work flows to ensure continuity for the viewers no matter where we are broadcasting from. Thank you to Kim Godwin for watching over our editorial while dynamically relocating all other NY based broadcasts including weekends and overnights and bulletins. Our EP’s: Jay Shaylor, Brian Applegate for working within the confines of a new world order. EP’s Bill Owens and Rand Morrison — delivering new broadcasts this weekend — you’re making technical history in producing & editing off campus and using all the latest technology to get your material from the cloud into MDC…or our backup plans which we are discussing. Miracles we hope can happen. CBSN, is also utilizing editing in the cloud, and coordinating with affiliates all over the U.S. We’re grateful to Christy Tanner, Darius Walker, Rob Gifford, and Lex Haris for “always being on.”
Thank you Chris Isham and the entire DC bureau and the technical staff that is pulling rabbits out or cameras. We know you certainly are giving at the office. The news flow is crushing – to Ward Sloane, Lorna Jones, and Caitlin Conant helping deploy, cover and uncover all of the political and government stories converging right now as the nation confronts this crisis.
Andy Clarke – your team was first on the front lines in Asia and London. You and the entire team have been an army and a guiding light through this all. Thank you to all of our anchors and correspondents – what you do has never been more important. There are challenges and risks – and Ingrid re-circulated our standards for safety that we sincerely want you to pay special attention to. We don’t want you in harm’s way. Watching our storytelling on 60 Minutes, EN and CTM, SATMO about this virus, we are reminded how daunting Covid-19 is but also the journalism and interviews that are giving us needed context and perspective. People are craving information – straight news – no spin. That’s what we do best.
To Eva and Special Events, Craig Swagler in Radio, Bob and Larry and the entire NewsPath team…we know your operations are being stretched to accommodate this tsunami of news……you’re keeping the world on top of the biggest developments ALL day and night and helping get that news on air, on radio and distributed to stations across the country.
Ingrid has taken the lead on our staffing – one of the most critical and complex projects in front of us each day. THANK YOU. The HR team of Montrese, Renee and Melissa- with Jose have been working around the clock disseminating critical health information to employees and establishing an entirely new criteria for allowing people in the building. The Human Resources team has worked through the night to help protect all of us. Thank you for your passion to help drive us forward in the safest ways possible.
1 CTM: NY / The Ed Sullivan Theatre
2. EVENING NEWS/ D.C.
3. 4AM News: WASH DC (Jeff Pegues)
4. OVERNIGHT NEWS: Done for the next two days(Gelosi)
3. SATMO: NY / The Ed Sullivan Theatre
4. SAT./SUN,. Wknd News: FROM KTVT IN Dallas their talent – Scott Keenan oversees – Craig Wilson in NY
4. 48 HOURS/. Delivered to MDC for air
5. 60 Minutes/ new material – EDITING OFF CAMPUS – POST PRODUCTON OFF CAMPUS then a double
hop but in the cloud downloaded from Sony CI to MDC. Other option feeding from the digi truck
outside Ed Sullivan Theatre.
6. SUNDAY MORNING/ New material – EDITING OFF CAMPUS – POST PRODUCTION OFF CAMPUS- same
plan as 60 MIN. (Protective backup show in MDC)
CBSN: Working with affiliates with Darius Walker and Rob Gifford running editorial & remotes remotely. CBSN will be upping their edit ability with cloud-based editing.
This is a team sport. We are indebted to each and every one of you – not just the people listed here. It is always impossible to thank everyone. But I feel it is right to take a moment to extend our deepest appreciation to all of you.
Please keep our colleagues who have contracted the virus in your thoughts – and everyone who may have health or personal concerns in their lives. These are unsettling and difficult times for so many. Thank you for staying true to our core values and continuing to help each other as we serve the public.
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