Some of the premises of the new news center of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) – the cross-media news center CNC – are particularly eye-catching. There is the small, stylish room on the seventh floor of the RBB television center with its jungle mural, the round seating elements and the children’s swings hanging from the ceiling. Here the employees – the CNC is designed for 170 workstations on two floors – can take a break or meet spontaneously for short discussions.
Of course, the largest room in the news center, measuring 400 square meters, is far more important for the planning and production of the news and the work of the editorial offices. Despite its size, this is the space of short distances. Here, the head of the newsroom sits just a few meters from the boss on duty, on the other side of the aisle all regional news arrive at the Tempo desk, which later finds its way to viewers and listeners via radio, television, RBB24 Digital or social media and users of the public service broadcaster. The coordination with the external locations and regional correspondents also takes place from here.
What this means for the work of a news medium was shown two weeks ago in the rampage from Breitscheidplatz, in which a woman was killed and many other people were injured, some seriously. “We were able to act very differently in the CNC than before,” said RBB editor-in-chief David Biesinger on Monday at the public presentation of the news center. Arrangements were made by acclamation, the CNC allowed coordination for the various media types from a single source. “Actually, an exercise was planned for such cases in the summer. But then the rampage came up and we practiced hard,” said Biesinger.
Another advantage is the state-of-the-art news studio, which is located right next to the newsroom and is unique within the ARD. In addition to the presenter, there is only one camera robot, the technical processes are largely automated, so that only two employees are needed in the direction instead of six. The main concern is not to reduce costs, but to increase efficiency and speed and reallocate funds for the new digital tasks.
In any case, when Tauentzien ran amok, the studio was able to be up and running within a few minutes. And if necessary, the moderator at night can even operate the studio himself in “single-handed operation”, as technical manager Wolfgang Hanke explained. Since the beginning of June, the CNC has also been producing the hourly night news for the six RBB radio stations.
The news center started its work a few months ago, but it is still in the learning phase. Accordingly, there are notes everywhere, which tasks are completed at the individual workstations. The employees themselves, on the other hand, rotate between their regular editorial offices and the CNC, this is to prevent the news center from developing into a satellite that is decoupled from the rest of the house, as RBB program manager Jan Schulte-Kellinghaus said.
In any case, the notes say “CNC 1.0” at the top right. And with good reason, because according to current plans, the digital media house should start operating in 2026. The current CNC is therefore a forerunner, with which many areas of the RBB are already being supplied with messages. The station’s two most important brands – the “Abendschau” and “Brandenburg aktuell” – are not yet included.
For the editors, however, CNC 1.0 is already a challenge that does not make all employees happy. The employees who organize the news in the CNC are now missing on site, because more employees have not been hired, it is lamented. There is also concern that topic development is becoming too centralized.
Incidentally, the cost of all the technical equipment at the CNC amounted to four million euros, and building the message center cost a total of 13 million euros. How expensive the digital media house will be, however, can only be said after the completion of the precise planning in the middle of next year.