CNBC's Schacknow: What I Know (And How I Got There)
Senior Producer, CNBC
Knowing All The Answers: I have a saying that's a tribute not so much to my ability as a wordsmith as it is my ability to dodge responsibility: The key is not knowing the answers, but knowing where they are. And boy, if I didn't, I would have lasted about two days in this job!
That was especially important today in two cases:
Case #1: a headline flashed that the Department of the Interior had decided to allow drilling in Alaska's Bristol Bay. While that was enough to raise my breaking news hackles, I wouldn't know Bristol Bay from Willow Bay from eBay. Thankfully - I was able to find information in the Anchorage Daily News that the government had banned oil drilling in Bristol Bay two decades ago and that oil companies had been pushing aggressively to restore it. Further consultation with oil producer Jill Woerner confirmed that this, was indeed, worthy of mention on the air.
Case #2: closer to home, United Airlines was tentatively awarded the right to fly daily between the U.S. and China. That it was important enough to air was obvious. But more details were needed - and in this case, we knew that four airlines had been competing for the route, but all had different proposals (including the endpoints of the route) and my memory was insufficient to give anchors Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth the information they needed to ad lib the story. Luckily, our sister site, MSNBC.com, DID have the information: the United proposal calls for a daily route between Washington's Dulles Airport and Beijing. That provided Sue and Bill all that they needed to get the story on at 12:35 pm with all the necessary information. (you can watch video of how we covered the story--just see below).
Apple Bites: Would they, or wouldn't they? We knew Steve Jobs would be making a speech at MacWorld, and we knew our Jim Goldman would be inside listening. Jim and his trustworthy Blackberry were able to give us the info that we craved before any other source did: Apple would indeed unveil a new product called the iPhone. We put up "dekos" with that information while Jim wrestled with the tough question: should he stay and listen to more of the Jobs speech, or come out and go on TV? A tough one. He decided to stay put and keep feeding us information.
We also did the Breaking News Desk version of the high wire act: producers in the field were feeding back raw tape of the new product while Bill and Sue talked about it with an analyst. They were excellent pictures, and the first look that anyone outside MacWorld would have of the iPhone. We had two choices: wait until the tape was fed in and processed ... or .. take the feed "hot", meaning as the tape is fed. The danger here is that the tape would end, the picture would go dark or to color bars, or someone would appear on camera eating their lunch. Thankfully none of these things happened and it all looked wonderful. Sometimes, you just have to take a shot!
All this happened at about 12:40 pm and it was an Applefest for the rest of "Power Lunch."
And Sometimes, I Actually DO Know The Information: Results of the Baseball Hall Of Fame Election came out right at 2 pm, with sports reporter Darren Rovell detailing the results: Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. get elected to the Hall, while Mark McGwire fails to do so. There's so much I know little about, but thankfully, baseball isn't one of those mysterious topics. We turned the news around instantly.