The Watched Pot
We’re very much used to multitasking and dealing with distractions here at the Breaking News desk, but it can be quite trying when a simple thing like a market milestone becomes a major issue.
Our producers expressed the desire to have a special alert ready to go if and when the S&P 500 crossed the 1500 mark. This would be the first time that’s happened since September of 2000, so it was a simple and reasonable request.
Unfortunately, the index refused to cooperate, hitting your classic resistance point at 1500. It came within a fraction of a point several times during Wednesday’s session, driving me to distraction while I tried to keep close track of it -- while performing all the other tasks of the day.
The same thing happened at the open Thursday, but finally -- finally! -- the S&P crossed the mark during "Morning Call." I have no idea if it will be a brief visit or part of a continued rise, but at least I won’t have to stare at the market numbers continuously. Until, that is, we get close to the all time S&P closing high of 1527.46.
'Annie Hall' & Breaking News
There’s a great scene in the Woody Allen movie, “Annie Hall,” where someone in line at the movies starts expounding on the theories of Marshall McLuhan, the man who coined such terms as “global village” and “the medium is the message.” Woody’s character tells the guy he’s wrong, and then says, “I just happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here!” Marshall steps out of nowhere and explains to the guy why he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
What does this have to do with the Breaking News desk, you may ask? Well, I felt exactly like Woody did, when the headline hit that an appeals court had refused Vonage’s request that Verizon Communications' patent case against it be sent back to lower court for retrial.
This is one of those very complex cases where it’s great to have a reporter who knows it backwards and forwards. In this case, that would be our Silicon Valley bureau chief, Jim Goldman. I was thinking that we desperately needed to consult with Jim at that moment -- and as luck would have it, Jim was not only not in Silicon Valley -- but was standing about four feet from me. He was in town for the Intel analyst meeting and had just returned. It was as if I’d pulled him out of thin air -- a la Marshall -- and thrown him into the breach to solve my problem.
Within minutes, Jim was able to determine that this was an incremental step in the case and not a key development. But just for a moment -- Jim was our Marshall McLuhan.