The following is a story of internal confusion at the "most trusted name in news." These events are true and the names have not been changed.
Essential background information: At 9:38 AM Thursday Feb 1, an email was sent to the Turner Broadcasting Superdesk listserv confirming the discovery of a suspicious package in Boston. If you were following this story, this was the first we heard of what we now know was a guerrilla marketing campaign for Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force (parent company - Time Warner) gone horribly wrong. At that point in the morning though, it could have been the beginnings of a terror attack. Whatever it was or could have been, it was important enough for the Superdesk listserv, an email received by most employees at CNN in NY, DC, Atlanta, LA, London and everywhere else.
Ok, now you know what the Superdesk is? Good. On to the Story of the Week:
The Mystery of Lori Sneed
Wednesday January 31
10:42 am EST: An email goes out to the Superdesk from Debbi Wynn with the subject heading "Lori Sneed." It read:
Lori and her mother are coming by for a short visit this afternoon. I wanted to make as many folks as possible aware of her visit, in the event you are around and available for her to stop in and say hello. We will visit the Public Info group first, and then come down to the newsroom. I expect her around 1p. No need to make special plans to be around, but I wanted to give you a heads up that we will stop by and see who’s available for a quick hello. --Debbi Wynn
Immediately, I think: Who is Lori Sneed? Why do I need to stop in and say hello? I do what I always do when I think I'm supposed to know something but maybe don't because I haven't been here that long, or haven't been paying attention - I ask Swetha.
Me: Who the hell is Lori Sneed, and why do I need to stop and say hello to her?
Swetha: I don't know. And why the hell is that on Superdesk?
Me: I'm gonna Google her.
10:49 AM EST: A Google search yields http://www.lorisneed.com/ and the Lori Sneed Blog cleverly titled "Lori Sneed Blog" http://www.lorisneed.blogspot.com/
10:50 AM EST: I send the link to the Lori Sneed Blog to Swetha and the following email exchange takes place:
Swetha: ….????...still confused..is she a famous anorexic??
Me: I think she might be a semi-famous paraplegic
Swetha: Oh….yeah…I still don’t know why we all need to visit her like she’s some tourist attraction.
Me: Yeah, why didn't they do that with Bill Gates?
Or anyone else who comes to visit?
Swetha: Apparently only diseased people get visitors … cause they may die soon so they have no PR people or security keeping them from us common folk
Me: But she’s not dying. I don’t think
Swetha: Well then just sick I guess…I dunno…still weird…I don’t’ want to visit handicapped girl…I want to visit bon jovi – superdesk that
Agreed. I forget about Lori Sneed for a while.
1:00 PM EST: Lori Sneed arrives at CNN, according to the email. I don't make time to pay her a visit.
2:33 PM EST: I send an email to people in my department inviting them to my birthday gathering Thursday night. At the end of the email, I mention that sadly, Lori Sneed will not be there. Begin puzzled email banter:
Lauren: yea, what was that Sneed email?
Amanda: NO IDEA..I WAS CONFUSED MYSELF. APPARENTLY SHE’S VERY IMPORTANT THOUGH BECAUSE THAT EMAIL WAS SENT OUT TO THE SUPERDESK!
(Amanda writes in all caps because sometimes producers write their scripts in all caps to them easier to read.)
Swetha: David googled her…apparently some semi famous paraplegic.
2:36 PM EST: I send everyone the link to the Lori Sneed Blog. And more email banter.
Swetha: For the record…from the blog thing I thought she was a famous anorexic…cause it totally seems that way.
Amanda: POOR DAVID… NO ONE COMMENTED ON THE FACT THAT IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY… WE’RE MORE CONCERNED WITH THE ANOREXIC PARAPLEGIC, OR WHATEVER SHE IS! DON’T WORRY DAVID… WE ALL LOVE YOU!!
Swetha: Right…Happy Birthday to David.
2:50 PM EST: Now I've got to get to the bottom of this. WHO IS LORI SNEED?? So I return to the blog, go to the beginning, the very first entry and I find this:
THURSDAY NIGHT. APRIL 27, 2006.
Hi, this is johnny (lori's brother). Thanks to Debbie Wynn at CNN for coordinating with some other folks at CNN to set up this WEBSITE and the introductory information.THANKYOU to all of you for your kind words, thoughts, prayers, offers of help, etc. It has meant the world to us.LORI's friends in Atlanta have been tremendously helpful (doug lindauer is her favorite, of course, and he's here while I'm typing and needs the ego-boost) --- also, a special thankyou to the many people at CNN where Lori works.
2:51 PM EST: I send out an email with this information.
Swetha: Still doesn't explain the superdesk.
2:52 PM EST: The Lori Sneed banter reminds Andrew of when Schiavo-mania hit the newsroom. He sends me this link: http://www.durrrrr.blogspot.com/
3:01 PM EST: Further investigation reveals that Lori Sneed is neither an anorexic nor a paraplegic, but a CNN employee who had emergency surgery to repair a perforated intestine in April 2006. That's when Debbi Wynn created the Lori Sneed Blog and Lori's family began chronicling the progress of her bodily functions for the world to see. She is still recovering, and she came to the newsroom in ATLANTA around 1pm, stop by if you get the chance but don't go out of your way. Ok?
3:07 PM EST: Jennie returns to her desk to find the Lori Sneed email banter.
Jennie: I’m glad the Lori Sneed thing was cleared up, because I was sitting with Laurie, just hoping that someone would figure it out before I returned. Keep me posted on any new afternoon mysteries.