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No Summer Slumber for NBC News Team with Conventions, Olympics

CLEVELAND — “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie worked morning, noon and night this week during the Republican National Convention.

Guthrie did her usual 7-9 a.m. shift Monday through Thursday on an open-air riser erected on the cobblestone street leading into the Quicken Loans Arena, where the GOP faithful gathered to formally nominate Donald Trump in the race for the White House. Then she shifted to focusing on updates and preparation for NBC News’ 10 p.m. convention coverage which she co-anchored with Lester Holt and Chuck Todd. What’s more, Guthrie is five months pregnant.

But even on the final day of the convention, Guthrie stopped for selfies with fans who gathered outside of the NBC News/MSNBC installation on 4th Street to cheer every time Matt Lauer, Al Roker or Guthrie turned their way with a smile or a wave. After Thursday’s show wrapped, Guthrie walked a receiving line of squealing fans eager to wish her and the baby well and snap a pic. She patiently took the time to help one star-struck woman figure out how to flip the lens on her phone for the shot.

Guthrie’s duties during the RNC was not unlike her counterparts at “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.” The on-air workload of broadcast network anchors has become much more demanding at a time when the nets are looking to news divisions to serve up more programming to more platforms than ever before. Chief ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos did his “GMA” shift and also anchored the 10 p.m. convention report. The “CBS This Morning” trio of Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King joined “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley and “Face the Nation” anchor John Dickerson for the 10 p.m. report on the Eye.

Those teams, along with other network correspondents, will maintain that grueling schedule again next week when Democrats gather for their nominating convention in Philadelphia. The non-stop nature of the job is simply part of the gig, say TV veterans.

“I love it,” enthused Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News. Mitchell anchored her noon “Andrea Mitchell Reports” MSBNC program from the same outdoor space as “Today” this week, as well as contributing to numerous other MSNBC and NBC News reports.

“I love having a live audience and I love being outside,” she said. “I do an hour of in-depth political news every day and there is no better place to do that” than the convention, she said.

As exhausting as the back-to-back convention weeks are, the NBC News team has the extra challenge this year of flying down to Rio for the summer Olympics just as soon as the confetti and balloons drop in Philadelphia on July 28. The Olympics run Aug. 5-21.

“I can’t remember a time when the team was under such relentless pressure,” said NBC News president Deborah Turness. “It’s the summer of being on the road.”

Turness stopped in to watch the “Today” broadcast from the street on Thursday morning before heading into the arena for meetings. She marveled at the dexterity of the anchors and the crew who worked out of tiny studio space only partly enclosed by transparent plastic panels.

Mitchell and NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw had to step carefully through a maze of cables, boxes and broadcast equipment just to get to the desk to join Guthrie and Lauer for their “Today” segments.

Working under challenging conditions “inspires the most remarkable team spirit,” Turness said. The staffs behind “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press” and MSNBC are collaborating more than ever before, she said, which allows everyone to make more efficient use of shared resources.

Turness said there’s another key ingredient to keeping people motivated during trying times: catering.

“We try to get really good food for people when they’re out (in the field),” she said. “An army marches on its stomach. We need everyone to remain healthy and focused.”

(Pictured: Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer in Cleveland)

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