Blog: Behind The Scenes – Covering G20 Summit For NDTV

5 am in the morning. I was in such a state of excitement that I couldn’t sleep a wink the previous night. I had to report to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to catch a shuttle to Bharat Mandapam on Day 1 of the G20 summit.

When I got there, an equally sleep-deprived Vishnu Som, our Executive Editor, joined me as we started our G20 coverage.

As a television producer tasked with covering this event, I had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the process of bringing insights, discussions, and debates to screens worldwide through our anchors and video journalists.

The design of the workplace reflected the G20 theme, with working areas segmented into sections named after Indian rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Krishna, and Godavari. On the first floor, we had Narmada, Indus, and Kaveri. 

Months before the event, meticulous planning and research were imperative. Understanding the themes, key speakers, and potential newsworthy moments allowed us to design compelling, non-stop 60-hour coverage on TV and the website. This involved liaising with our team, which includes editors, reporters, camera crews, and engineers, to ensure everyone was aligned with the objectives of uninterrupted programming.

Securing access to the event was a crucial step. This involved navigating accreditation procedures, and travel arrangements, and ensuring all equipment needed, tested, and checked. Coordination with the G20 authorities, event organizers, and security personnel resulted in smooth operations during the event.

The G20 is a dynamic environment with impromptu discussions, interviews, and press conferences around every corner of the International Media Centre. In my role as a producer, my capacity to adapt quickly to unexpected developments was vital. My camera team, Pooja Arya, Azam Siddiqui, and Ashok Mahale, were always ready to capture the most relevant and engaging content possible.

But then last-minute problems always crop up. A very senior anchor forgot his bag in the Bharat Mandapam shuttle on Day 2 of the Summit. It had his ID cards and documents. Thankfully he was wearing his Bharat Mandapam ID card and managed to get in. We later recovered the bag much to everyone’s relief.

Among the highlights of the G20 coverage were the exclusive interviews with prominent figures like India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, Chief Coordinator of the summit Harsh Shringla, South African President’s spokesperson Vincent Wagmenya, and World Bank Chief Ajay Banga to name a few. Anchors Vishnu Som, Parmeshwar Bawa, and Vasudha Venugopal prepared thoughtful, important, and incisive questions.

Technology can be a double-edged sword in such a dynamic setting. Adverse weather conditions, like rain on Day 2, made us switch our broadcasting to indoors, and crowded press conference venues were the main challenges for me and the camera team to do the setup in a very short span of time. Rigorous testing and having backup solutions in place were essential. A shoutout to our engineer Ashish Kumar who was on a call away to help us navigate any crisis. Additionally, leveraging cutting-edge technology, such as high-quality streaming via Live U Units and high-speed in-house internet at the media centre helped us uplink our footage on time.

After every event, the real work began at our headquarters – assembling and editing the footage into segments. Meeting tight deadlines while maintaining the highest production standards was a challenging but rewarding aspect of the process. Details of the video feeds, transcripts, and photographs were constantly shared on a WhatsApp group so that everyone was on the same page.

Covering G20 as a television producer is a multifaceted endeavor that requires meticulous planning, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the event’s significance. It was a privilege to be part of a team that brought this global dialogue to our viewers worldwide. I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to Devna Dwivedi, Chief Executive Producer, NDTV Group, for giving me the opportunity to cover the historic event. It was an invaluable experience that I will always cherish.

(Mir Rafae is Executive Producer – Associate, NDTV)

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