Things to do in Atlanta: Behind the Scenes at CNN! #cnnbloggerstour

CNN has been my go to news channel for at least the past 10 years or so. I love the variety of news stories that are covered and the reporters and people that bring the stories to life. I know that with CNN, I can get the scoop on what’s happening all over the world, not just in my tiny corner of Georgia!
I have lived in the metro Atlanta area for 12 years now and have discovered a ton of really cool sites to visit but have never been on the InsideCNN Studio Tour until now. I was recently given the opportunity to go behind the scenes at CNN with a group of awesome Georgia bloggers and we had a blast!
 
The CNN Center is the world headquarters of the CNN news station. (For those of you who don’t know, CNN stands for the Cable News Network). It originally opened in 1976 as office space to various businesses and the complex also houses the Omni hotel. The escalator (you can see part of it in the picture above) that is used during the CNN tour has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator in the world. I can tell you, having been on it, that it is QUITE a ride!
Our tour guide (Jason) was amazing and really engaged the group…he had answers to all of our questions and kept the conversations flowing the whole time! We started the tour with a quick look at how the broadcasting system works. Sitting inside a small theater, we got to see a large panel of screens with an assortment of different feeds coming into them. I was truly amazed at how all of these feeds stay organized and as cameras pan in or out, you see a smoothly flowing newscast on your TV. I never stopped to think how many camera feeds must be rolling at any one time! It all looks so effortless when you turn on your TV to watch CNN!

We also got to see some of the high tech toys that CNN news folks get to play with! Magic boards allow the reporters to move images up, down, or off the screen with just a touch of a finger. Adjust the size or location of a map with just the slide of two fingers in any direction. The good old ‘green screen’ is another cool feature. The screen behind your weatherman may LOOK green in the studio but viewers at home actually see maps and weather forecasts! Ahhh, the wonders of technology!

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There are a few places where no photography is allowed on this tour. The main studio where the filming is done is amazing and apparently cost more to build than the entire building cost Ted Turner to purchase in the 70’s. I really expected to see camera people filming but Martin Savage was in the recording studio all alone with huge robotic camera systems!

This is the part that really fascinated me…an entire room full of people doing research on upcoming stories! Every person had about 3 computer screens in front of them and was busy working to dig up facts on hot topics. Apparently this is also where the CNN social media gurus live…all those CNN tweets and Facebook updates come right from here! Once the facts and sources are documented, the information gets passed on to the writers in a room similar to this (but smaller) downstairs. The writers are the ones who put together the actual stories that will get aired on the network.
In addition to the main studio and research/writing areas there are also studios for CNN International, HLN (their sister network) and CNN en Espanol.
Of course, after the tour you will want to stop at the food court, sit down in a restaurant, or do a bit of shopping! The food court actually used to be a giant ice skating rink. When the floor was put in, the tiles actually map out the entire world! Very cool but hard to make out with all the chairs sitting on South America and such! I (of course) had to stop in to the CNN shop and get a magnet to add to my fridge collection! You can get pictures of your group sitting behind the mock reporter’s desk. I think our Georgia bloggers news team looks quite stunning!
 
So, the facts about this tour: 
Tour Length: This 55-minute guided walking tours leaves approximately every 10 minutes from the ticket counter  inside the CNN building.
Tour Hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pricing:  Check out  http://www.cnn.com/tour/index.html for the full pricing information
Location: It is located downtown in Atlanta, Georgia next to Centennial Olympic Park at 190 Marietta Street, although its official postal address is 1 CNN Center.
Parking:  MARTA rail service is provided to the CNN Center at the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center station. There is also plenty of parking (covered and open parking) available but you will have to  pay a small fee. I paid $10 to park in a parking deck right across the street and that was for an entire day…not a bad price, especially if you want to combine your trip with a visit to the Georgia Aquarium or the World of Coke. (both great destinations…highly recommend those, too!)
Miscellaneous info:  There are lots of stairs but if you have a mobility issue there are elevator assisted tours at certain times of the day. Check to see when those are available. This isn’t really a great tour for young children. Don’t plan to bring your hyper 2 year old who wants to bang on windows and run around playing with things! Older kids should do fine. Teens or college folks interested in getting into journalism should REALLY check this out!
If you want more information about InsideCNN tours you can check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out their website.
My thanks to the InsideCNN tour group for allowing me to participate in this tour! I had a ton of fun and was really fascinated by how a story goes from concept to broadcasting!
Disclaimer:  I received one free ticket to this tour in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation and all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone!
                 

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Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke!

Comments

  1. Wow what a fantastic opportunity! I am a huge fan of CNN and loved seeing it through your eyes!
  2. Christy Lee says:
    I've been to that building many times, and have had the pleasure of taking the tour once. I lived in the Atlanta area for 20 years!
  3. Very cool - thanks for sharing!
  4. Mommy Reporter says:
    Great review Diane!! Thanks so much for sharing, I'm so glad I finally got to meet you in person. Looking forward to seeing you again soon!! :)
  5. What a unique and interesting experience! I didn't realize that they offered tours. Neat photos, I love the pic of all the bloggers behind the mockup CNN desk!
  6. My husband travels to Atlanta for business but I've never been. Now I want to go so I can take the CNN tour. Thanks!
  7. That looks like a neat tour to go on!

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