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My Job Shadow Inside The Newsroom: How CNN Operates Day to Day

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Over spring break, through VOX’s Take a Teen to Work program, I decided to job shadow at the CNN Newsroom, so I could experience the feel of being a journalist for a huge news organization.

CNN is the world’s first 24-hour cable news network. Their programming is available in 91 million American households, and over 354 million households worldwide. It’s not just the television side on CNN, there is also CNN Digital. With over 200 million global visitors a month, it’s important that everything is planned out accordingly, so the day and digital publishing go smoothly.

Christina Zdanowicz, a CNN senior producer who “identifies trending topics and important social conversations around the top stories CNN is covering each day,” is one of CNN’s online producers. Her day starts off with reading all of the assignments her team is working on. If she needs to help with any stories they’re working on, she’ll contribute right away.

She then looks on outlets such as Twitter and Instagram for social media trends that would make good content for CNN. Once she finds a story to cover, Zdanowicz and her co-workers from around the country sit down at an editorial meeting to discuss their content. During this meeting, television shows are planned, what guests should be booked, the topics that are going to be discussed, and the segments that are going to be run. From what I experienced, this was done very thoroughly. Producers and show staff are usually on the phone or video conference to tell the team about these topics. Also, different network teams discuss what topics they’ll be covering for the day. Zdanowicz works for the Social Discovery team, so after she finds topics, she assigns them to the “PM shift.”

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Before any story or script is posted onto CNN Digital or on CNN, it goes through a thorough review process to ensure the news or video is accurate and trustworthy.

One of the biggest requirements for working at CNN is adapting to situations quickly. During my job shadow, the YouTube shooting story broke. The atmosphere in the newsroom became much louder and busier. If there is breaking news, staff will most likely have to ditch what they are working on and get to the story so CNN can tell its audience what’s going on. For Zdanowicz, breaking news means she must look for videos, photos, and eyewitnesses on social media. It can be difficult verifying the content, so videos or photos need to be confirmed by the network before they are put online or on air.

The daily operation of CNN and CNN Digital is 24 hours. When it’s late in the United States, the CNN Hong Kong bureau is operating stories online and on air, and vice versa. The next day never stops in the newsrooms of CNN.

Being in the CNN Newsroom made me notice how busy and exciting being a journalist really is. Even though being a journalist may take a lot of time in your life, it is all necessary because what we write has an impact on the world. The typical 9-to-5 schedule doesn’t exist at CNN. Instead, the journalists who work at the network will not sleep until they are confident their story is done right. Being inside the newsroom at CNN made me realize journalism is what I was born for. CNN’s commitment to producing reliable and factual content is a true motivation, and I can’t wait to work there.

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Terell WrightTerell Wright is a 15-year-old freshman at Walnut Grove High School. He is a teen staffer at VOX Teen Communications and a student columnist for the Walton Tribune.

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