Inside Foreign News at NBC

Its been two days with early morning hours of training on the NBC foreign desk. I get in early to work and immediately asked to shadow Nina (Current Assistant News Editor) who is closely working with Peter Jeary, the desk editor for the day.

I’m introduced to the iNews system, which is a database of desklogs, foreign handovers from previous shifts. Then I am pretty much left to observe how she is running the whole operation from handling journalist requests, production requests, keying in desk feeds and updating the Hot file. Also known as the file to feel any current news updates immediately. For e.g.. Deaths, bomb blasts etc. Journalists in the field have access to these on their blackberry and iphones. So this has to be done with a great level of accuracy and speed.

Chris Hampson, the International News Director London is in and we immediately have something called ‘the huddle’, where the team gathers to share a brief discussion on main international stories for the day, possibly new leads and an update of journalist whereabouts, who’s travelling back, who’s leaving etc. This doesn’t take very long and every one quickly scuttles to get on with their work.

Another key thing I learn is to always be on top of the teams covering different kinds of stories. These days, much has been going on about trying to find out about the source of the E.coli break out, Yemen and Syria unrests. All of a sudden, we hear NBC News correspondent Michelle Kosinski doing another story about a facebook party in Germany instead of E.coli. At first you’d wonder if it would be such a pressing issue in the wake of so many current international developments, but on the lighter side it did.

Apparently the 16 year old was to bring in her birthday with a few friends, but accidentally didn’t list the invitation as private and a few thousands turned up. Interesting enough until we have more updates about E.coli!

At one O’ clock Chris, along with the Desk Editor is on a conference call with all the crew on foreign assignments to discuss developments on the stories, new angles and updates from different countries. So I figure, atleast a team of 10 – 15 Producers in different locations, are on the conference call and every possible story is flagged from the uprising in the mid east, the 2012 Olympics tickets fiasco to the celebrity sheep Shrek dying in New Zealand

Apart from two main screens, I am also looking at 6 mini television feeds which are mainly, Reuters, Associated Press Television ITN and a few others. Things start to peak up in the afternoon, as New York wakes and the phones start buzzing and requests keep pouring in. Another thing I’m told is to start getting used to talking in terms of Eastern Time and British Standard Time.

I’m then logged on to the iNews system, so I get a hang of navigating and using it myself. And i continue to keep pace with everything that’s ongoing. I’m working the afternoon to midnight shift today, so expecting it to be a lot crazier than usual, but guess thats what keeps it all exciting!