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The Glamorous Life of a Journalist

December 28, 2009

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/25/opinion/main6022747.shtml?tag=cbsnewsTwoColLowerPromoArea;morenews

(reprinted without permission – but, hey, i wrote it!)

Christmas Chaos: The News Never Stops

Not a Silent Night in Sight Christmas Week as Health Care and Attempted Terrorism Bear Down – Along with a Lot of Snow

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  • Heavy snow in Washington, DC the week of Christmas, 2009Heavy snow in Washington, DC the week of Christmas, 2009 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CBS)

This essay was written by Danna Walker between bouts of chaos on CBS News’ national desk in Washington

While most of the country pauses, at least briefly, in acknowledgement of Christmas Day, the news never stops.

This has been a holiday period particularly full of “breaking news” for that area of the world that comes under the auspices of the Washington News Desk. That’s the official name for the large, horseshoe-shaped cubicle that looks something like the world’s most brightly lit bar on the second floor of the CBS News Washington bureau.

The news-tenders who work there play a key, but generally unheralded role, in the making of what viewers see each day in polished format on The “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric”, “The Early Show” and other CBS News broadcasts.

It all began last Saturday with one of the heaviest snowstorms on record in Washington – a situation that, alone, creates chaos and crisis for the news desk, which must make sure that reporters, producers and crews get to their destinations no matter the weather. Weather, with a capital W, is always a big story in itself. It affects everyone and guarantees an audience.

But this time, we had an additional unrelenting blast of atmospheric pressure – from atop Capitol Hill. The Senate was in around the clock to hash out the final wording on its . That meant last-minute news conferences, live stand-ups, network pool shots live from Capitol corridors, White House statements, and endless blustering, blathering and bloviating from the Senate floor. Er, I mean, it meant lots of news from the hallowed halls of Congress.

Special Report: Health Care Reform

It also meant that because my four-wheel drive SUV allowed me to report to my slot on the news desk at 6 a.m. Saturday, I didn’t get to go home until 2 a.m. Monday. Many of my colleagues fared no better, though we did get to sleep across the street at a nice boutique hotel with an appropriately lit bar and a hot bath for the taking. A colleague who got a later ride with a courier in a cargo van brought me a change of clothes from her own closet.

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