Power Lunch

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Power Lunch

CNBC's Schacknow: Headaches Over Headline Segments


Short Sheet: Here’s why I especially love our live data market spreadsheet that I’ve mentioned in a few prior blogs. I had the monthly performance page open this morning and happened to be looking at the sheet at the exact moment the Dow (and later, the S&P 500) went negative for January, and therefore for 2007.

This is significant because the major averages had all been up well over one percent for the new year within the past few days, with the Nasdaq’s monthly/yearly gain exceeding 2 percent at one point.

I was able to tell "Morning Call" anchor Carl Quintanilla my Dow discovery when it happened (at 11:08 am, for those keeping score at home) and he had it on the air within seconds. Afterward, he messaged me “Eat dust, Bloomberg!”. Hey, we get our kicks where we can.

Other major revelations from the sheet: at one point, we were on pace for the worst monthly performance by the Dow and the S&P since May of last year. (It’s since reverted to June). Some think we (meaning me!) are too hung up on numbers, but it’s all about perspective, and stats like these definitely provide it.

Picture This: I love my job. Really, I do. But I still get aggravated when I see a story that I know is good and I can’t for the life of me come up with the video to match. In radio, as I’ve said before, this isn’t a problem. In TV, you can (in theory) have an anchor read straight to camera, but it’s visually boring.

One of the duties of the Breaking News Desk is to write the one-minute headline segments that appear at the top of the 11 am and 1 pm hours (the second hour of "Morning Call" and of "Power Lunch"). The anchor stands in front of the CNBC.com monitor and we put the relevant video in the monitor. If we don’t have any, there’s just a plain blue background that doesn’t excite anyone.

We faced just such a problem today: a story came out that there’s been a surge in the numbers of chief financial officers who have left their jobs in the wake of increasing scrutiny of stock options practices and other financial matters.

Now, with enough time, you can pretty much get any pictures you want from the library - or send a camera out to shoot some. But since these headlines are done within a short time span (so we can get the latest news on), that’s not always possible.

The CFO story had a special challenge: what would I use? In our list of already-cut video, I couldn’t find anything that related to aggravated CFOs or stock options. Bottom line: not really a picture-friendly story.

What did I do? I went back through the story, found the names of two big companies whose CFOs had quit (Bank of America and Citigroup) and used video of those companies.

In the end, it looked fine. Now I just have to send our cameras out to show generic video of unhappy executives..