It was breaking news, but the TV companies had it planned for years

By Caitlin Pike

As the Pope’s health deteriorated at the end of last week, CNN began
anchoring its news programmes going out across the world from Rome in a
broadcasting operation that had been planned for years.

The news channel had a team of more than 50 working on a roof top
overlooking St Peter’s Basilica to cover the story of the Pope’s death
and his funeral. On Saturday CNN’s Rome bureau chief, Alessio Vinci,
was broadcasting from the Vatican for 24 hours as the story developed.

spokesperson for CNN said: “Covering this story is what CNN
International is about. It’s a truly global story with ramifications
all over the world. As well as our many live reports coming from
correspondents, we are anchoring shows for CNN US, International and
CNN en Español from Rome as well. We are also reporting from countries
with large catholic populations such as Mexico, Poland, Philippines and

CNN International anchor, Richard Quest, who has been on
air in Rome each morning from 5am, said: “There is no doubt that every
one of us at CNN wanted to be here for this story. Since I became a
journalist there have been two huge stories you could actually plan
for, the death of the Queen Mother and the death of the Pope. I have
been lucky enough to work on both.

“The size and scale of things
here is remarkable. At night you can see the lights from the temporary
studios of all the television networks around the Collegio pointing
towards St Peter’s Basilica.”

On Thursday evening, following news
of the Pope’s worsening condition, Sky News anchors Martin Stanford and
Jeremy Thompson flew to Rome to cover the story. Anna Botting travelled
to Poland to anchor the news from Krakow, while reporter Barbara Serra covered the Vatican along with correspondent Colin

Five News chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay was also in
Rome. Sky News broadcast extensive coverage from Ireland as well as
across Britain on reactions to the Pope’s worsening health, and
subsequent death.

On Sunday Sky News’ daily share was 0.94 per cent compared with 0.65 per cent for BBC News 24.

funeral coverage for Sky News will be anchored by Jeremy Thompson and
Anna Botting. Julie Etchingham will anchor Five News coverage.

My momentous week


What a way to start my career at CNN: anchoring one of the biggest
global news stories and getting right into international news.

I debuted as an anchor last week on World Business Today in what was
supposed to be a fairly straightforward roundup of the day’s economic
and corporate news.

It turned out to be far more exciting for a
journalist ready to make his mark. On day one on, I was dealing with
the earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The rest of the week brought other
unexpected live breaking news.

All good practice for Friday when
news of the Pope’s illness broke. The programme was replaced by a
three-hour live special on his worsening health. I was asked to anchor
alongside the accomplished Fionnuala Sweeney.Next came the opportunity
to anchor the weekend evening shift and I was on standby to go live
when news of the Pope’s death broke.

At this point we handed over to the special events team in Rome.

night saw me back at the desk for a four-hour special involving
elements from more countries than I can remember. Reports from Rome had
to be juggled with international reaction and on-the-spot interviews in

Who could ask for a more interesting or challenging way to start a career as an international news anchor?

Max Foster was formerly business correspondent at BBC Breakfast

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