When viewers turn on the news and see reporters in distant places providing compelling video of international confiicts or natural disasters, few probably think about the technology that allowed those images to be produced in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable and then transported halfway around the world into U.S. homes.
Those technical challenges, however, have been top of mind for Stacy Brady throughout her career. During the 2003 Iraq war, most network correspondents were feeding back jittery video over mobile phones as they followed the army through the desert because their satellite systems could only work from stationary locations.
Brady’s team worked with Maritime Telecommunications Network to create a complex system that allowed NBC’s David Bloom to feed high-quality video back to the U.S. from a moving vehicle, which was dubbed the Bloommobile. That effort, which won Brady’s team a 2011 Emmy Award for Technology, is one of many examples of the alliance between editorial staff and engineers that has greatly improved NBC’s news coverage, Brady says.
“It has been a very collaborative relationship between editorial and engineers because technology plays a key role in our being the No. 1 news organization,” she says.
Brady’s interest in technology began early. “I was a bit of a techie,” she recalls. “I was always the one with the CB radio. I wasn’t the cheerleader.”
But she had no specific technology training and, after college, she took a secretarial job at NBC, where her mother worked. Only a few weeks into her new job, the People’s Temple massacre occurred in Jonestown, Guyana. “I was hooked,” Brady recalls. “I could see we were really providing a public service, and I wanted to be part of it. But as a female in this business, I realized I had to go back to school and learn everything I could.”
As Brady took night classes on everything related to broadcast technology, she worked her way up to technical manager, where she spent 15 years travelling around the world from event to event. By 2007 she was senior VP of news field operations, where she oversaw an international team of engineers who provide the day-to-day technical support and live-remote origination services for NBC News and other NBCUniversal divisions.
Last fall Brady was promoted to her current post, where her duties were expanded to include news production at 30 Rock. Her teams continue to develop innovative newsgathering tools for NBC’s election coverage. As part of that effort, NBC has been sending out one-person crews equipped with cameras, laptops and LiveU backpacks who have been feeding a massive amount of text and video to 30 Rock for newscasts and digital platforms.
“The embeds are a great example of how we’ve worked with editorial to develop technologies that allow them to cover much more ground than we would otherwise be able to cover,” Brady says.
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