For a you-are-there view of Cable News Network’s global headquarters in the downtown CNN Center, Atlanta Parent recently tagged along with local Boy Scout Troop No. 370 for the “Inside CNN Studios” tour. The hour-long experience gives visitors a peek into live studios, the chance to both sit behind an anchor desk and listen to live audio feeds, and a bird’s-eye view of the famous 24-hour newsroom.

After going through the required metal detector security check, we step into the “world’s largest free-standing escalator at 196 feet,” according to Callie Richardson, our veteran tour guide. The boys in the tour group are impressed, letting out a collective “COOOOL” during the seemingly never-ending ride.

We are released from the escalator into a room with an anchor desk and a wall of TV monitors. The kids play around behind the desk and pose for photos. The tour continues into an auditorium where we listen in on live audio of news directors and producers as they prepare a national news segment. After a few minutes of listening to jargon that we don’t understand (but still find amusing), we next venture to a window with a view of CNN’s main studio. As our tour guide fills us in on what’s going on, the curious scouts seem most interested in the robot-like television cameras which, we’re informed, can cost as much as a four-bedroom house.

The consensus on the coolest part of the tour: the overhead glimpse into the CNN newsroom. We spend 10 minutes perched above hundreds of producers, editors and writers working on that day’s news stories.

“This is so awesome for them,” says troop den leader and mom Michelle Kelly. “This is one of our more exciting outings.” The tour has inspired a few of the boys to start paying closer attention to the news. “I like knowing what’s going on in the world,” says Charlie, one of the scouts. “It was really cool learning that they broadcast in different languages.”

Adults will like: The inside look at operations. There’s a lot going on at CNN, and spending an hour learning about it may leave you inspired to want to know everything.
Kids will like: Learning about and standing in front of the “green screen,” a bit of TV “magic” that can show weather maps and other images while a reporter stands in front of it. But beware of wearing blue or green clothing because it also disappears on TV in front of the green screen, making you look like a floating head!  

– Kate Wallace

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