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May 13th, 2009
09:51 AM ET

We Control the Chaos

By Roger Strauss
Director, “CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris”

Roger Strauss, Director, CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris.

Roger Strauss, Director, CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris.

It’s 10:59AM. There is one minute until the show starts. During the next two hours, we are scheduled to bring you 24 live shots.

Right now, none of them are ready, and three of them run in the first five minutes of the show. There are now thirty seconds until we start. I look down my line of monitors and see this: an empty shot from the White House lawn where there should be a correspondent, color bars where I should see a reporter in Afghanistan, and an empty chair in New York where a guest is supposed to be. Am I about to experience a TV director’s worst nightmare? No, I’ve had much worse.

One of the goals of “CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris” is to bring you as many live reporters, guests and events as possible while Tony is in the anchor chair.

We average around 25 live hits in the two-hour show. Once commercial time is taken into consideration, we have about 88 minutes of air time to fill. If you do the math, that’s a live shot every 3.5 minutes. It’s a lot of stuff to keep track of and in the controlled chaos that we call live television, we usually get it right. When we don’t, it winds up on a blooper reel or on YouTube!

When we get it right, how do you like the show? Leave your comments—we read them all. This is your chance to talk directly to the show’s director. (Directly to a director, get it?) Believe me, you will never get a chance like this at any other network!

So what became of the show where nobody was ready just before we started? Did it become the latest viral video on YouTube? The White House reporter walked into her shot. The color bars from Afghanistan dropped and there was our correspondent. The New York guest sat down in her chair just before we rolled our open. No worries, no problems.

But wait, we’ve got breaking news and we have to go to it. That means a new set of worries and a new set of problems. All in a day’s work in the CNN Newsroom.


Filed under: Tony Harris
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Dee Dee Freeman

    Get back all the money we used to bail out the automakers and bankers and use it to bail out our SS and MCMA

    May 13, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  2. Dot TX

    FIX IT? it's really simple stop spending the money on other stuff and collect all the IOU's where they took money.
    There is NO SS fund, they pay the folks and then put what is left in the general fund to be spent on things OTHER then SS and SSI

    Stop the theft of SS income and the outgo will be solvent for a while longer.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  3. Robert Albritton

    I just heard an absurd comment by one of your analysts, to the effect that Social Security contributors would not get their contributions back in their lifetime. This is dead wrong on the average. Once an average recipient receives contributions for roughly seven years, they will have received back all the money they put into the system. Overall, the performance of Social Security as an investment has exceeded that of money market funds (especially recently). The financial institutions of this country just want to get their hands on the Social Security trust fund (and have for decades). All that is needed to fix the system is to raise the contribution on upper income people to an inflation-adjusted limit comparable to that of 1975, and raise the eligibility age to 70 or so. (Life expectancy for persons who reach 65 is at least 84.) In my view, Social Security is the best investment anyone can make. (By the way, whatever happened to workers' pension funds?)

    May 13, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  4. charles moffett

    The current funding model for Social Security is nothing less than a ponzi scheme. Some folks are able to get some money in retirement and soon thereafter succumb to circumstances of old age as disease or natural causes. The money they had put into the fund thus is still there but not for them. It certainly goes somewhere else doesn't it not. Case in point, an ex wife of mine who never worked a flippin day in her life and has "earned' monthly checks for over 20 years. In this case personal accounts would be a better scenario. And yet, what happens to that money when that recipient dies. Who should get the change? Another old wage earner, or Pakistan. Oops! I think I just had a mental intrusion of synaptic backfiring. Excuse me!

    May 13, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  5. sue

    Tony, you and Ali keep talking like everyone else, "save for your retierment' social security is running out. We have to raise the age before you can collect  What about ALL those laborer in this county with back, neck, and shoulder problems. They take pain medication  every day just to make it to work and get through another day closer to retirement.  It's fine to work to 67 or 80 if your body can make it.  Some of our hardest workers in this country make the least amout of money and yes, they still save, but will never make it to 80 or be able to live on what thay have saved.  Don't make that  dream farther away.'

    May 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  6. DJ Jones

    If the politicians paid Social Security like the working Americans we wouldn't have this problem of it fading away, take a look on how they will receive there retirement, its wrong for them to take our money & they get to keep all of theirs....

    May 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  7. tim

    Social security is an insurance policy, not a retirement account. Like any insurance we buy, we really hope that we will never have to use it. It was designed so that if we die before our time, our dependants will not starve, or if all our retirement plans go to hell in a handbasket, we won't be selling pencils on the street in our old age.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  8. FRAN TIBO

    I love Tony Harris – he is human, charming and a true and real old style anchor. I also love Kyra who has the same quality than Tony. The news room program from 9:00 to 4:00 is my favorite part of the day on CNN.

    I love Wolf and what I don't like from his show now is that it must be a nearly catastrophe for speaking or covering the breaking news happening; he seems to keep speaking only of political only and when a breaking news is covered all the afternoon – at 4:00 p,m, they stop to cover it. It's like the STARS ANCHOR AS WOLF, LOU DOBBS, CAMPBELL AND OTHERS are to important to cover the breaking news . (except ANDERSON he covers breaking news very often but it's too late for many viewers who has to get up early in the morning.

    Before when something was happening we now it immediately and CNN was covering it and showing it. Now each STAR keep speaking of his own predetermine subject and they are or seemed annoyed to cut for a breaking news of moderate importance. CNN HAS LOST HIS FIRST REPUTATION TO COVER THE NEWS – TO ANCHORS STARLETTE HANGING TO THEIR SUBJECT in my opinion and it's why the viewers are going away to see elsewhere.

    Also before when Anderson Cooper was at 7:00 p.m. I never miss him and he loves to cover breaking news but at l0:00 it's too late for me and I am unable to see more than 5 or 10 muinutes before going to bed.
    I HAVE A BIG SUGGESTION FOR CNN that will give the station a big boost of viewers poll and it is:

    NO MORE CAMPBELL BROWN OR ROLAND MARTIN (sorry but they are very annoying to listen) BUT AT 8:00 P.M. YOU PUT:

    ANDERSON COOPER FOR TWO HOURS (8::00 TO 10:00) EACH NIGHT and a replay Saturday of the best of the week at 8:00
    and LARRY KING at l0:00 ONLY ONE OR TWO DAYS IN THE WEEK
    and a new anchor for the other days for covering the news as DON LEMON from monday to thrusday and LARRY on friday night only I think. He is to old now and it's time for ssomething else

    These are my suggestions and I think that I am not the only one to tkink like this.

    The big star Anderson Cooper is not use to its full potential and for the majority of person l0:00 p,m, is a too late time for workers and he will be appreciate more at 8:00 or 9:00 and more modern version of Larry King.

    Thank you for reading my comments

    May 13, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  9. John

    Tony, not fair that you should have such a " good looking " right-handed " substitute to add comment to your reporting..... We should all be so lucky, but its time for you to add your own viewpoints to this medium... Like many of us who are of " senior status ", this is indeed the wave of the future especially when viewing this through the eyes of the baby boomers..Hopefully as time will permit, Tony, you will look on this as an was to connect to your audience.... Hate to recommend that you take over this, as again, you are lucky indeed to have such a challenge.. Might just take time to accept this challenge, but we're all patient..... John.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  10. michael armstrong sr.

    dear tony this is a message to the people of the united states who have not ever served there country . dear citizens of this wounderful country do not pass bad judgement to the sargent who killed his comrades because you have no idea what its like to be in a country of people who despise you along with being away from your home and your loved ones this horrible feeling of despare and caulthure shock is only known to the american veterans wars turn good people to do bad things that cant be undone so please to those who didnt serve pray for this soilder and forgive him because some one you know may fall victem to this horrible ending ive always felt sorry for my self for the sacrifice i made to my beloved country but it dosnt come close to the living bodys who have lost there soals on forgien lands who never come back they way we left so instead of hate try to understand and pray for god to wacth over his victoms and to show mercy on the sargent. may god bless all our dead and all our undead that live but have died. Michael Don Armstrong 1979 to 1981 The U.S.S. Texas C.G.N. 39 American Rescue Mission . im proud of my country but some times others just dont understand the grief ?

    May 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  11. dav

    greek street view has been shut donw.mmm...guess where bilderberg is meeting from may 14 – may 17. yes athens greece. if you dont know what bilderberg is look it up!

    May 13, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  12. Gary Benting

    I think you missed one of the obvious solutions for Social Security! Stop spending the money that is collected from SS taxes on other programs and giving the surplus to the general fund and repay the IOU's that have accumulated over the past decades to the SS Trust Fund. If we can afford to give billions to private companies that have bankrupt themselves, we can and must repay that debt also. How many times have the legislators saved SS by increasing payroll taxes and extending the retirement age only to come back a few years later to do it again. During my 35 year career, the wage base for SS has increased from $7,200 max to around $100,000 max now and I have to work a full year longer to get full benefits. Have the same changes been made with government pensions that require no contribution?

    May 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  13. John

    Now that we have seen Roger, we need to see some info about Jeni and her backround as well..... Fill us in about your able-body producer as well..This is such a well rounded program, that with all her " touch " to developing programming, it would be great to see who it is that makes this all available to the viewing audience..... John

    May 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  14. Rich Lessing

    I am impressed with what you guys do. I know that you have years of experience so that you can look at all those screens and switches, create programs and implement them, but I look at your control station and my eyes go all twisted.
    I would imagine it gets pretty stressful, so I am glad to hear the 'fun' in your words. You would have to be enjoying your job to make it work for you and us, the viewers.
    Tony is amazing. A very smart man. I enjoy his take on some of the stories, and his willingness to express his feelings without destroying the objectivity of reporting the news. I believe that is the most difficult aspect of a TV reporters job, keeping it from getting personal.
    Thanks for the job you do, Roger.
    Rich

    May 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  15. donna

    Tony...could you please stop refering to Cheney as "vice-president" I didn't vote for him...I voted for Joe biden.

    May 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm |

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