London 2012 (07.20.2012) – Tragedy Across The Pond

Note: Due to NBC’s and the IOC’s social media/blogging policy, I am not able to release these posts until after the Olympic Games end. But these posts were written during my time in London and all thoughts are my own and do not reflect those of neither NBC nor the International Olympic Committee. 

Not much to do on the second day of work. But the preparations for London 2012 took a backseat as news of a tragic shooting at a movie theater in Colorado spread among many staff members here at the IBC.

At the commissary and on many televisions within the NBC compound, we can see what they are showing on the local NBC station in New York. While I was having breakfast at around 9:30AM in the morning, I was watching the early morning newscast from WNBC and at the top of the newscast was breaking news from Aurora, CO on a mass shooting during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises”. At the time, we only learned of 20 injured, but little did we know that the number of victims would grow quickly.

Since the story was happening in the middle of the night, many of the staffers at the IBC knew about the story before those in the US even woke up. As the story unfolded, it was hard to really pay attention to anything else going on at the IBC. Luckily, there wasn’t much to do anyway. NBC News broke into a special report at around 11:30AM here (6:30AM in NYC) and nearly everyone’s eyes were glued to the televisions inside our area. Normally, we have the sound muted but we turned the volume all the way for most of the afternoon as we paid close attention to the Today Show, which aired breaking news coverage throughout its broadcast.

That was one of the benefits of working for NBC. Even though we were an ocean away, it was relatively easy to still keep up with news at home since all the TVs were tuned into what the network was airing. Many of the camera guys were watching a feed of the British Open broadcast of ESPN on a feed that was coming directly from 30 Rock (I guess someone requested that someone send the ESPN feed instead of watching it on the local BBC).

It was a surreal day and an exciting day in a way because I got to see how other news producers react to such a huge story. The tragedy in Colorado is the biggest news story so far of the summer and it came on a Friday, which is normally a slow news day to begin with. I kept my eye on the wires throughout the day to see any updates on the story. It was heartbreaking to hear about the victims, including an aspiring sports broadcaster who narrowly escaped death already at the Toronto Mall shooting earlier this summer. She had just tweeted how excited she was about going to see the movie. I also learned of a fellow SU graduate, Stephen Barton, who was in the Class of 2012 and was wounded in the shootings.

Everyone has a story. I always go by that motto. It’s what I love about the Olympics. So many athletes with a unique story, all with their own path to the Games. Unfortunately, everyone in that movie theatre also had their own story, and some with a more tragic ending than others. Today we were reminded of how precious life can be and how lucky we are just to be alive.

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