I recently spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) while travelling for work and visited the enormous headquarters of CNN (Cable News Network) which broadcasts worldwide in over 200 countries. Founded by Ted Turner, upon its launch in 1980, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage.
Unlike most corporate HQs CNN Center is a major tourist attraction in Atlanta with studio tours available for visitors throughout the day, a large food court on the ground floor, and even a hotel (where I stayed). Many groups stay here due to its proximity to a nearby conference centre.
If there’s one thing about America which is blatantly obvious wherever you go it’s that brands are king with CNN being no exception. The widely recognised logo, made up of red lettering with a white line running through the middle (a cable), has remained unchanged since its inception which is testament to the strength and originality of the design.
The building was originally built as an indoor theme park with an ice skating rink in the middle, however, it suffered from poor attendance, and was closed just six months after opening. CNN later took over the building and converted it into studios and office space with a world map covering what was the ice rink.
A huge globe sits on top of the main studios with the world’s longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator running into the middle of it – a relic of the original theme park that today serves visitors on the tour.
The tour lasts around an hour and takes you around a number of studios and newsrooms which provides an interesting look behind the scenes at how the tv broadcast is put together and all the various departments required to make it happen.
For some reason, it’s tough to take a photo of an LED news ticker without getting the strange banding you see above.
For me, the highlight was the newsroom floor where all the reporters gather their leads and monitor what’s going on in the world. The screens at the top of the picture show various ‘routers’ which contain different live streams which the director can switch to at any time. You’ll notice there’s a camera constantly trained on the White House.
Outside the office is the Centennial Olympic Park which was built for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics and the site of a terrorist bombing during the games which killed two people and injured over one hundred others.
In the hot weather, many kids were enjoying the Fountain of Rings which features computer-controlled lights and jets of water synchronised with music. Nearby is also a very good burger joint which is well worth a try.
The park was paid for in part by the donations of thousands of individuals who “bought” bricks engraved with short messages of their choice and laid throughout the park. I just happened to spot one with my name on it!
I was visiting just before the 4th July celebrations and was rather sad to miss the fireworks.
Another major brand which has its headquarters in Atlanta is Coca-Cola. At the south end of the park is the “World of Coca-Cola” where you can taste many of the flavours sold by the company around the world and learn about the history of the company.