After visiting the World of Coca-Cola, my colleague Sally and myself walked for a few minutes into another top attraction in the city of Atlanta. This is to check out the headquarters of I think the most famous news network in the world, the Cable News Network or more famous as CNN.
And just like Coca-Cola, Atlanta is also CNN’s home base. The CNN headquarters is located just across the Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. It is just a few meters from the Georgia World Congress Center where I went to for the Atlanta Comic Convention.
The CNN Center in Atlanta, as I learned during the tour, is located in what was once an indoor amusement park. Its the first of its kind and was called The World of Sid and Marty Kroft. The CNN Studio tour takes about 55 minutes and runs about every 30 minutes. Standard rate for the tour costs $15 which can be bought at the main atrium.
And so the tour starts with a long escalator ride, 8-storeys long, from the main atrium. When the amusement park still existed, the main atrium used to be an ice skating rink but we later filled in to be replaced by a mosaic map of the world. They’ve also put brass markers in the map where the CNN bureaus are located. The main hall also has become a food hall for the restaurants inside the atrium.
When Sally and I arrived at the center and bought our tickets, it was very timely that the next tour is just about to start. To start, we all have to pass through a metal detector and a baggage inspection. Then we all take that long ride up the escalator which also happens to be the world’s longest freestanding escalator.
At the top of the flight where the escalator ends into a huge globe feature, a sample newsroom is situated. Here each guest are given the opportunity to have a photo acting like CNN anchormen reading the news. Unfortunately they do not allow guests to use their own cameras for their photos. They have their own photographer and you can purchase the photo at the end of the tour, such a downer.
Anyway after that photo opp, we are led into a small theater where our guide gave us a brief introduction of the tour. Here we were instructed that there are parts of the tour that taking pictures are not allowed. Also, this briefing room had LCD TV screens that is similar to where the director reviews what feed will be shown live on TV. The LCD TV screens had one showing what’s live on TV, the camera view of the anchorwoman while waiting for the interview feed gets finished and another is another camera view.
Next we went down a floor into a mini-studio for HLN, which stands for Headline News, a sister news company of CNN that only focus on US domestic news. And in this studio, our guide introduced to us how the basic news feed is done. This is with their cameras working as the teleprompter as well. It is done with mirrors in front of the camera lenses.
He also showed us the magic of the green screen where the weather forecasters do their weather reports. Well just like how it is done in movies and like what was presented in the Sound Stages of the Universal Studios in Los Angeles, they use the green screen to put people into the graphics that they show on TV.
Next we went down another level or two where we passed by a hall which gave us a view of the actual CNN newsroom. Here the news are being made where their writers and editors are located. And farther from our view is the news studio. For another level we also passed through the same newsroom for HLN which unlike CNN’s, it is almost empty as it was a Sunday. Apparently HLN only go live during the weekdays while they tape reports for the weekends.
Then we were also led by our guide to a window where we actually see the actual news studio for CNN and another for HLN. Unfortunately when we passed by the CNN live studio, the reporters where not within our view while for HLN they are empty. And also, they do not allow pictures to be taken on this part of the tour.
And just after the tour, we are finally led into the CNN gift shop. Overall, it was a nice tour but did not enjoy it as much as the Coca-Cola tour since we have to take a number of flights down stairs to go to each section of the tour. Here I feel bad for tourists who are old or need assistance as they’d have to take the stairs. Though from their website they say that there are elevators available, our guide did not give that option for the elderly in our group.