Pope's resignation a new angle to a tough news beat
Editor's note: Peter Shadbolt was Rome bureau chief for United Press International between 1994 and 1997.
(CNN) -- For Rome's Vaticanisti -- the name for the Rome-based press corps that follows the pope -- covering the closed world of the Holy See is like attending to a nuclear missile silo; it's largely routine until the balloon goes up.
Opaque, hierarchical and arcane, the Vatican is a tough beat even for seasoned reporters. It involves paying punctilious attention to papal routine -- never missing the often dreary papal audiences on a Wednesday and the uneventful address from the Vatican on Sunday.
Even then, getting blind-sided by stark Vatican announcements that drop without warning is a risk that comes with the round. While many might see shades of Dan Brown in the Vatican's media style, some of it can be attributed to the tradition of humility that comes with holding the Chair of St. Peter.
Italy's ANSA news agency, whose correspondent Giovanna Chirri understood the Latin, was first to break the news. Other correspondents at the consistory struggled to make sense of the speech.