10 Years in The Situation Room for CNN and Wolf Blitzer

By Chris Ariens 

This month, the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer celebrates 10 years on the air.

Launching August 8, 2005 the 3-hour late afternoon, DC-based news show was an extension of CNN’s election coverage nine months earlier, when the network went live from the NASDAQ MarketSite and its multiple monitors for tracking dozens of election night locations.

“We transformed a pretty traditional program, Wolf Blitzer Reports, into a hugely more dynamic environment,” said former CNN SVP and DC bureau chief David Bohrman, who, along with former CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein, created the show. With a wall of monitors, the program “better reflected all of the information: video, data, blogs, etc. flowing into a modern news operation,” Bohrman said.

Wolf2005FishbowlDC was there for that first day (at left). Less than three weeks into the program, CNN would call up the full potential of The Situation Room to cover Hurricane Katrina as it stormed ashore, and the weeks of devastating aftermath.

“What a ride it’s been ever since,” Blitzer told TVNewser. “We like to think we’re the command center for breaking news and I couldn’t be prouder of our SitRoom team and the extraordinary journalism we produce every day.”

Bohrman and his crew created new roles to ensure the video walls were constantly and dynamically updated and changed as the afternoon progressed. “We went from a single-window world to a multiple window one,”Bohrman said.

Some of those team members are still with CNN, including SitRoom ep Sam Feist who is now DC Bureau chief, and Eric Sherling now director of DC programming. Janelle Rodriguez, the first SitRoom wall producer, is now SVP of editorial at NBC News.

The name of the show was borrowed from that oft-mentioned but little-seen corner of the White House. Bohrman is gratified the early naysayers have come around to appreciate and even duplicate CNN’s Situation Room. “It is nice that even the critics from 10 years ago have come around and are doing similar programs.”

“The first ten years have been great; now on to the next ten,” said Blitzer.