Street Signs

CNBC's Schacknow: Our Day On The Breaking News Desk


What Does It All Mean? As Breaking News Producer, it’s often my job to answer that very question. Sometimes, unfortunately, the best answer is: “beats me!”. That most often happens when a tiny piece of information on an ongoing story finds its way to us.

Example: We were already following the story of the Thailand stock market’s 15% collapse after the government imposed currency controls. At 8:15 a.m. ET, a single headline came in that said the Thai government would “step back” from those new controls after the stock market’s plunged.

No doubt in our minds that this was breaking news, and that the Thai government was thinking … hmmmm .. maybe a 15% plunge in stocks ISN’T such a good thing. But we had no additional info on what “step back” meant. Did they revoke the new rules? Amend them? Call timeout?

With no information immediately forthcoming, "Squawk Box" anchor Becky Quick went on and told us what we did know, so the news, such as it was, would be out there. Thankfully, a few minutes later, word came down that the new restrictions would no longer apply to investments in stocks.

Discovering The Real Story: Sometimes, we’re too well trained for our own good. At 7:30 a.m. ET, Morgan Stanley issued its quarterly earnings, so we immediately sprang into our usual drill - extracting the proper EPS and revenue numbers and preparing “dekos” to put up on screen. That’s why I was momentarily looking elsewhere when an additional piece of news popped up from the company’s earnings release: that it was planning to spin off its Discover credit card division.

That’s not just an additional story. That’s THE story. Chief executive John Mack had said as recently as August that Discover would not be spun off, but now calls it the best way to enhance shareholder value. Luckily, our other producers and anchors saw it and jumped all over it, so little or no time was lost .. and I was off the hook. Whew!