January 19, 2009

Media executives must have been paying attention last week when President Bush declared a state of emergency for Tuesday’s inaugural.

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CNN’s Washington bureau chief David Bohrman, for one, issued a “news emergency” of his own.

While Bush freed up federal funds, Bohrman made available satellite phones in the event of rolling cell phone blackouts. There will be cots and air mattresses for staffers camping out in the newsroom on Monday night, along with shower arrangements at a nearby health club. Staffers will be treated to a pancake breakfast prior to braving the bitter cold and bulging crowds.

“It’s the biggest event any of us have ever had to cover,” Bohrman said.

While there have been several massive Obama events this past year — Berlin, Denver, and Chicago’s Grant Park — the inaugural is proving to be the most complicated. Covering it requires dealing with a vast number of moving parts, among them the challenges for camera crews of literally moving around to cover the sprawling event. Much of Washington will resemble an occupied city, complete with closed streets, checkpoints, and a 40,000-plus security force.

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