There is a terrific narrative by Jan Hopkins (Live From New York),
who was the only reporter on the floor of the NYSE the day of the
crash. She covered it live, and her reporting on the crash helped CNN
win a Peabody Award.
Here are her recollections:
"At best, most people
get to merely observe great events. On Oct. 19, 1987, I found myself
the narrator of one. On that Black Monday, I was the only TV reporter
broadcasting live throughout the day from the New York Stock Exchange.
That’s quite a contrast with today, when telecasts from the floor
are ubiquitous, and reporters seem to outnumber the NYSE’s dwindling
crew of specialists and traders. Although CNN didn’t regularly report
live from the exchange, we’d had a reporter there the previous Friday
when the Dow had shed 108 points, or 4.6%. I was assigned to go to the
exchange Monday, in case things got worse.
My producer, Barbara May, and I arrived well before the opening
bell. Our cameraman, Jim Peithman, lowered wires out a window of the
exchange balcony to our production truck, parked in an alley. For most
of the day, I was on that balcony with Gary Miller, a Big Board
employee assigned to keep an eye on us. His bosses decreed that we
couldn’t use camera lights because they might distract the traders and
The market was tense as stocks continued their fall from the week
before. I did updates whenever a producer in Atlanta ordered one, each
time calculating the Dow’s slide by longhand with Barbara.
From where we stood, we couldn’t see the monitors that the stock
specialists used, and there were no huge plasma screens around the
trading floor as there are now. Barbara used an internal phone to call
the exchange’s market-news desk for the latest reading on the Dow.
Then, we did the math ourselves. We didn’t have access to computers,
and we hadn’t brought calculators. By shortly after 2 p.m., we realized
that the Dow had fallen more than 292 points, or 13%, to around 1950, a
decline that eclipsed the market’s previous worst one-day percentage
swoon — 12.82% on Oct. 28, 1929.
Until that juncture, I had been careful to stress that, despite the
large point decline, this was nothing like the 1929 crash. But now it
was worse. With its global satellite reach, CNN was broadcasting the
story live around the world. What we reported and how we reported it
had the potential to make a bad situation worse. I carefully chose my
words and tone, and tried to avoid expressing fear. Still, I had to
describe the panic developing below.
As the action intensified, the balcony became crowded with reporters
and photographers, awaiting the closing bell. I remember a sign at the
end of the day, indicating that the ticker was running several hours
behind. Eventually, we learned that stocks had plummeted 22.6% — that
would be about a 3,100-point drop now — to 1738.74. I remember the
traders’ uneaten lunches in paper bags. Most of all, I remember
thinking that we had been part of history.
Richard Torrenzano, the Big Board’s then-communications chief,
recently told me he believes the media helped calm investors on Black
Monday. That might have helped ease the way for the market recovery
that soon began."
Quite fascinating . . .
Black Monday – Part II
Barron’s October 15, 2007