Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Day

What an amazing journey it has been! I feel truly grateful to have been given the opportunity to cover the Pope. I have met so many interesting people, seen old friends, watched veteran journalists and of course seen the Holy Father and the President! I feel very blessed. It's stories like these that allow me to be on the front lines of history and that's why I got into this business in the first place. Thank you all for reading and watching and thank you for your emails. I traveled with a great crew. My photographer Justin Burrows was truly a godsend. His work ethic, diligence, personality and meticulousness truly made me shine. To Eric Bishop who operated our truck and made all our shots visible to the folks back home...he had a lot to carry on his shoulders working with our affiliate NY-1 and it all came off without a hitch. See you back home in the Tar Heel State! Lisa

Day 4 - The Papal Mass

We did not have credentials to get inside the Papal Mass but we were allowed to stand somewhat near the stadium (We were not close at all, if you are in Charlotte we were basically standing near the convention center...relate that distance to BofA stadium and thousands of people and street vendors, it was all roped off, so we only had a small block we could get access to). Security was everywhere...I just wanted to get near the doors at least so I can catch some of our group going in, but no luck. Members of the Raleigh Diocese were great, they were able to allot tickets for us, but we couldn't get by with the camera equipment. I literally stood on a street corner near the stadium with a sign that read "North Carolina". With thousands passing by, only a few stopped, some were UNC grads and finally we found a few natives. I knew people inside, but that was the problem, they were all inside. After the Mass...they were on one side, we were stuck on another and security was not giving us any leniency at all, which is understandable. It probably didn't help that we were an out of town station, if they were familiar with us and our station, maybe they would've let it slide. I did speak to several people on the phone to get a feel for what they thought of the Mass. Unfortunately many were heading home immediately following the Mass and we are on our way back to the Basilica of the National Shrine. See you at 5pm!

Day 3 - The White House

Yesterday was a crazy day! We began early, departing for the White House at 7:15am. When we got there, we waited...and waited...for nearly 2 hours! We went through security and walked to the press briefing room, which was a lot smaller than I thought. I saw Matt Lauer (NBC) hauling some chairs. I saw Tim Russert (NBC) talking to a Bishop and Chris Cuomo (ABC) filling a backpack. We also met a priest from Spain who was traveling with one of the international stations. He said he was tired of being asked the same question focusing on the sex abuse scandal within the church. Once on the South Lawn, I was completely in awe of the beauty. My photographer was on a riser and I was in a pit with journalists from around the world. One European journalist observing the seating arrangements said, "Only in America would you seat Cardinals with members of other religions." Seeing the President, Pope and First Lady was amazing...a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 2 - The Arrival

Even though we have credentials, it doesn't allow us access to the venues. It alerts security that we are a legitimate media outlet covering the Pope. Therefore, we were not positioned at Andrews Air Force Base when he arrived. We were, however, right outside of the Vatican Embassy, where he will be staying. Hundreds of people lined the streets there. Many of them Hispanics from San Antonio, Dallas, California and Minneapolis. They held signs, waved flags and sang. They brought drums, tambourines and guitars. They chanted "Benedicto". And then...there were the protesters. The signs denouncing the Bible and those yelling about priests and pedophiles. But, there were more supporters out there than opponents. When he arrived there was a motorcade of Metro police, I couldn't see the Pope at all because there were huge tour buses in the way and tons of people. He arrived moments before our 5 o'clock live shot. We were sharing time with our sister station NY-1 and they wanted to get on live as soon as possible, but it was finally our turn. I met a woman who grew up in Greensboro who lives across the street from the Embassy and she was just so excited to watch. Then was also a guy from Charlotte. He wasn't Catholic but he wanted to try and see the Pope because as he called it, "He's a famous guy, he's a celebrity." I heard on a local station here that Pope Benedict XVI didn't want a large crowd or a big deal surrounding his trip because it was more about faith than him. Too of the gift shops is selling Pope bobble heads.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 1

We left for Washington at 5am. It was a fairly quick trip, we arrived around 11am. The hotel was once a Holiday Inn but now it's very contemporary. We dropped off our gear, picked up credentials and headed to the USCCB. They were hosting a media tour of all the sites. It was a reunion of sorts as I saw former co workers waiting the lobby. We boarded a bus for the Basilica of the National Shrine, it was an amazing church. We interviewed a spokesperson from the Secret Service and the Rector of the church. He was excited about giving the Holy Father a tour of the shrine and also said he was nervous. He said it was an honor to be his tour guide, but hoped he didn't fall on the steps! At the National Mall, we put together our stories...I have to admit it was pretty cool standing in front of the Capital reporting for News 14. It was at that moment I realized how lucky we are to be a part of this historic trip. All the planning and finally...the week is here. Tomorrow he arrives.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First leg - Raleigh

Today I am anchoring from our newsroom in Raleigh. It makes it easier since we are leaving so early Monday morning, although it only shaves about 3 hours from the trip. We are estimating about 5 or 6 hours. Hopefully it will be smooth drive. I am doing some research today about the last Papal visit to DC. From what I could find it was October 1979. I compared the itinerary and Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting a lot of the same sights Pope John Paul II did. The two may not mirror each other in attitude or behavior but the message is similar.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The White House!

We just got word today that we will be on the front lawn of the White House with Pope Benedict XVI, The First Lady and the President! I am very excited because not every media outlet has access to this event. There are two Carolinians that I have been in contact with that will also be there, hopefully we can touch base with them as well. It is going to be a crazy day but well worth it. I spoke with the Press Affairs person today and she told me it will be a "nightmare"; a lot of waiting around, a lot of security...but completely understandable. I will be driving to Raleigh today and anchoring there this weekend. On Monday we depart at 5am for DC!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charlotte Catholic High School

Today I spoke with students at Charlotte Catholic High School to gage their interest on the Papal Visit. They have been discussing it in class this week, but many say they feel disconnected. Many young people are not familiar with the man formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. One young man said Pope John Paul II was like a grandfather and when Pope Benedict XVI began his Pontificate it was like gaining a stepfather. It was a very eloquent and profound analogy. The teacher, Mrs. Burns, suggested reading a book Pope Benedict XVI wrote entitled, Jesus of Nazareth. The first book written during his Pontificate, it was published last May. For more information on the book, click here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Coming together

When we arrive Monday afternoon, we will park at the National Mall. I have only been there once, so I am excited to see it and have it for our background for live shots. I spoke with several people today who are going up to DC so hopefully I'll be able to connect with them while there. It's definitely not like the NCAA where the Carolina fans are dressed in blue! Looks like most of the ticket holders from here will all be in the same section at Nationals Park for the Mass, so that's helpful. Less than a week away...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Three million dollars!

Washington, DC is footing a three million dollar bill to host the Pope. There will be an elaborate church set at Nationals Park where the Mass will be held on Thursday, April 17th. Placido Domingo will be singing. Still searching for people who may be going from the Triad and Triangle. My email address is on our website.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Sunday is supposed to be the day of rest but the countdown continues. Eight days until he arrives! Today, I looked over his itinerary. I remember back in 2005, being camped out in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Charlotte as the health of Pope John Paul II was failing. He was the only Pope I had ever really known and I learned so much about the conclave of Cardinals and the selection process of a new Pope during that time. I was reading today online, someone had written that Pope John Paul II was probably the most charismatic and active Pope. The article talked about how thousands flocked to the Vatican to see Pope John Paul II but today just as many or even more visit the Vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI, to listen to his teachings. I wonder what his legacy will be, what impact he will leave on Americans during this visit. He celebrates his 81st birthday on April 16th, some say because of his age, this may be his only trip to the U.S.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Questions to ask

As more people find out about the trip, many ask me how close will I get to the Holy Father. Probably not close at all. There are about five thousand media coming from all over the world to cover this historic event. My news director, Jim Newman calls it, "...a Superbowl for one person."There will be tight security and thousands of people. Luckily, we have media partners like CNN and NY-1 that can help us with video of the actual events, like the Pope's arrival. Some people have also asked if I will be interviewing the Pope. Not likely. When he's not traveling in the Popemobile, he'll be surrounded by an entourage of security. He has his own Secret Service detail. If I did have the chance to sit down with him there's so much I would ask, I could probably be there for hours. If you could ask the Pope one question, what would it be?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Finding the People

Today I spent most of the day on the phone and sending out e-mails. I have only been to DC once and finding North Carolinians will not be easy among the crowds! The Charlotte Diocese has been so helpful in providing me with names of people who are attending the Mass on Thursday, April 17th. I spoke with a few of them today and one woman is bringing her children. I can't imagine what an experience that will be for them. Yesterday, I met a man who is the main distributor for the gifts that will be sold at the Mass. He happens to be from Charlotte. The Queen City is definitely going to be making their, if only I can find people from Raleigh or Greensboro. Anyone have any leads here? Thanks!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Interviewing Bishop Jugis

I interviewed Bishop Jugis today. I met him a few years ago, when I first started here in Charlotte. My assignment at the time was to get a comment from him and I had no idea what he looked like. My photographer and I were in a church parking lot and I was scouring the area until I saw him get out of his car. I approached him, unsure if it was him, but asked anyway. He confirmed who he was and knew who I was, as he had been watching News 14 Carolina all morning! From that initial meeting, he always remembered my name. A soft spoken man, full of faith, he is always willing to give an interview and he is very approachable. I've interiewed him several times, on several topics. Today he shared thoughts with me about the Holy Father. He met him twice in 2005 and said he had "great spiritual depth". He also reminded me about what a historic trip this is. Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating his 81st birthday while in the U.S. and also the 3rd anniversary of his election to the Pontificate. He told me how grateful he is that the Pope chose this special time to share with American Catholics. Please check out the story online and feel free to send your thoughts, comments and reflections.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Countdown to Pope Benedict's Visit!

Hello and welcome to our special blog detailing the latest information on our coverage of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI! He will be coming to the United States for the first time on April 15th, landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington DC. I will be there along with a crew from our Raleigh and Greensboro newsrooms and a team from our affiliate in NY. I am really excited to connect with some of you who may be heading up there and I am anxious to hear your thoughts about his visit. Please feel free to comment and I will keep all of you in the loop. Thanks for reading along and thanks for watching News 14 Carolina! See you in DC! Lisa

PS: There is a link on this blog to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, they are the organization hosting the Pope. You can also check out his itinerary for his trip and we'll let you know where we will be during this historic event.