Apr 09, 2020
By Kelby Clark
An interview with 'CBS This Morning' executive producer Diana Miller.
When New York became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, CBS This Morning executive producer Diana Miller and her staff went from covering the crisis to working within its imposing limitations. With closed studios and quarantined correspondents, it seemed like Miller was calling her team with changes to the show’s staffing, location, or format nearly every day.
“The basics of studio production and the patterns we’ve created from being on the air for all these years all of the sudden had gone out the window,” she says.
The morning show has made several changes to adapt to the relentless coronavirus news cycle. Reporters interview guests over Zoom and Skype, the majority of the two-hour broadcast is dedicated to the public health crisis, and contributing medical doctors are at the forefront of coverage. The CBS News operation is also making updates to protect the staff as much as it can.
Last week, CBS This Morning took a moment to recognize Maria Mercader, a CBS News veteran who worked for over 30 years as a producer and talent director. Mercader died March 29 after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since late February.
"The team is working around the clock to serve our viewers as much information out there as possible."
Executive Producer of "CBS This Morning"
"All of our anchors and people on the staff, are willing to do whatever it takes to stay on the air."
Correspondents and anchors rely on video conferencing apps to communicate in lieu of the “dynamic conversations” they’re accustomed to having around a table or in the greenroom at their homebase, Studio 57 on West 57th Street in Manhattan.
Gayle King interviewed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg via video conference on March 18, and the show’s Lead National Correspondent David Begnaud interviewed Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last week from his apartment in Manhattan.
CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers has been covering the coronavirus crisis from his apartment since CBS News first closed its offices on March 11, with many segments showing him moving throughout different areas of his apartment. He works with a small camera crew whose focus is less on the perfect shot and more on providing an honest look at the current situations.
"Focusing on first responders has been important for us because they are on the frontlines."
It’s also approached the human and practical side of the pandemic, featuring people like Catherine and Harry Zollars, two sibling pharmacists from St. Louis who described what it's like to be on the frontlines of the crisis; Clay Bentley, a resident of Georgia who survived coronavirus after spending 12 days in a hospital; and retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson who shared advice on dealing with self-isolation based on the 665 days she spent on the International Space Station.
“Whenever you’re chasing a story that’s developing, there are threads that emerge. Focusing on first responders has been important for us because they are on the frontlines, and it’s important we’re showing the reality of the situations they are in everyday.”