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The scramble at CNN

Sep 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The daily 8:30 a.m. editorial meeting at CNN headquarters in Atlanta began as it always does on Sept. 11, with about 50 top leaders of the Cable News Network either present in person or, in the case of the chiefs of the various U.S. bureaus, conferenced in.
“We talk about the news coverage of the day,” said Eason Jordan, chief news executive and news-gathering president of the CNN News Group. The daily meeting was taking place in a conference room one floor above the main CNN newsroom. Then, at approximately 8:48 a.m.: “Our managing editor in New York, Edith Chapin, shouted out, `Unconfirmed report of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center!”’
“At that moment, the room of 50 people cleared out in less than 10 seconds,” Mr. Jordan said.
Mr. Jordan ran to the office of Walter Isaacson, chairman and chief executive officer of the CNN News Group, and then headed to the newsroom. “And by the time we got down a flight of stairs outside his office, we were not only on the air with it, we were showing it.”
The first eyewitness to the unfolding tragedy CNN put on the air was one of its own employees, Sean Murtagh, financial controller in the New York bureau, Mr. Jordan said.
In the early going, Mr. Jordan said, “Literally nobody else was on the story,” and that CNN alone was showing images of the WTC.
“We were sitting here watching our live coverage when we saw on live TV the second plane go straight into the other tower,” Mr. Jordan said. “I don’t think any of us left the newsroom floor for probably eight or 10 hours thereafter.”