By covering the first night of the bombing of Baghdad live, a trio of Cable News Network reporters - Peter Arnett, John Holliman and Bernard Shaw - instantly became familiar faces around the world.
Two of those reporters, now back in the United States, aren't sure they'd want to go through the experience again. And they are sure they're uncomfortable with their newfound fame."I'm old-fashioned when it comes to journalism," Shaw said in a teleconference Wednesday. "I don't believe reporters should become part of the story or make news. But in this instance, we became news.
"I regard this recognition as a curse. It's no longer an ego satisfaction for me."
While the bombs were falling in Baghdad, the reporters said their families were at the forefront of their thoughts.
"The worst part of this has certainly been the strain on my wife and my parents and my in-laws," Holliman said. "Would I do it again? I'd have to think about it some more."
The pair both said they never really believed the war would break out. And they weren't exactly certain how to act when it did.
"I didn't know there was going to be a war," Holliman said. "I didn't know I was going to be in front of the only microphone still working as coalition bombs were falling. Looking out the window and telling what was happening just seemed like the thing to do."
And, apparently, he did his job only too well. Holliman said his one regret was that by broadcasting specific information about what direction the bombing attacks came from and where the bombs were falling, he apparently angered the Iraqis, who cut off CNN's link.
"That kind of reporting gave priceless intelligence to the alliance, and to the Iraqis," Shaw said. "When Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell praised us for our reporting . . . it did become the kiss of death. Because (the Iraqis) wanted to control information as much as possible, they shut us down."
And he also theorized that the general confusion at the start of the war was one reason CNN was allowed to keep the link open.
"The government was confused and so busy dealing with the problem of being attacked . . . they simply forgot about us," Shaw said.
During those hours that Baghdad was being bombed, the CNN reporters often attempted to inject some light-heartedness into their reports.
"My injections of humor were efforts to lighten a desperate situation, because I knew one misdirected bomb could have taken us out," Shaw said.
"I don't know why I was doing it the way I was," Holliman said. "My wife was at home watching this on television. I knew she was. I wanted to make sure she wasn't going any crazier than she was."
CNN has come under some criticism for its competitive advantage in Baghdad - the implication being that the network has made some kind of a deal with Iraq.
"It's not fair to say CNN is getting special treatment from the Iraqis," Shaw said.
The main difference between CNN coverage and that of the other networks the night the war began was that CNN had a special piece of equipment - a "four wire" - that kept Arnett, Holliman and Shaw on the air. The four wire allowed the reporters to transmit by microwave directly from their hotel room to Amman, Jordan, where the signal was linked to satellite back to CNN headquarters.
It completely bypassed both the hotel operator and the Iraqi telephone company.
"For months, we had been trying to get a four wire installed, as had the other networks," Shaw said. "Ours was approved. The other networks were using telephones and theirs went dead."