Media outlets are much like pyramids, with the few names the public knows at the top of a vast foundation of unheralded staff people who make everything work.
One piece of CNN’s pyramid is now missing after the death of Melissa Elkas, who suffered a “medical emergency” at CNN’s New York City headquarters, according to Variety.
Employees were informed about her Wednesday death through a memo that said the electronics graphics operator with more than 25 years at CNN died after being taken to a hospital.
“Melissa was a friend to everyone and dear friend to many. She was warm, caring and loved CNN and what we do more than anything else,” the memo said. Variety said she joined CNN in September 1997.
Remembering our colleague Melissa Elkas: pic.twitter.com/BgRqYLpcVv
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) August 3, 2023
“She dedicated her life’s work to CNN, to our journalism and to supporting everything we do every day. Melissa took great pride, dedication and care to how we presented news and special projects to the world and throughout her 26 years, she worked on numerous shows and specials, starting at CNN in Atlanta and later moving to New York, frequently traveling to DC for Election Coverage,” the memo said.
“Melissa had a deep commitment to getting it right and was a huge part of every team she’s been on,” the
“CNN This Morning” co-host Poppy Harlow said Elkas was there “every morning, as happy as can be.”
“Those banners that you see at the bottom of your screen? That was all her. The full-screen graphics you see throughout the broadcast — that was all Melissa,” Harlow said, according to People.
“She was dedicated to putting on the best show and by all accounts, she consistently delivered. But even more than that, she was just one of the best people we knew. She was smart and loving, so funny,” Harlow said.
“She was a huge animal lover, especially of her cats. And boy, were they lucky to have her. Her family lovingly called her, ‘Missy.’ And we will deeply miss her,” Harlow said.
Anderson Cooper later mentioned Elkas on his show, according to Deadline.
“To say that she was a vital part of CNN would be an understatement,” he said.
“Melissa could do it all. She was an electronic graphics operator, was part of a lot of different show teams,” Cooper said.
“Melissa was really good at her job, but she was also a really, really good human being,” Cooper said. “She was kind, loving. She was a mentor, always willing to help others and she knew how to make other people feel good.”
“There was another thing about Melissa that so many people here will never forget. That was her laugh. It was infectious. …You could hear her laugh echo through the halls at work and the control room,” he said.
“Believe me, there is a lot of pressure in this job, but that laugh — Melissa could help put things in perspective,” he said.