Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cover the Event, Please

Unless you are hibernating in a cave somewhere, you probably watched, listened, or read about the Obama Inauguration today. This was one of my days home with my 1-year old (he'll be 1 year old in about 2 hours!), and so I was lucky enough to be able to watch a great deal of television coverage.

I rotated between the big 3 TV networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC.
As we live 15 minutes outside of Washington DC, we had non-stop coverage all day, even when the nationals went to 'local' coverage.

I want to applaud the local coverage. It was interesting. They talked about road closures, metro issues, parking problems, etc. It was just the sort of stuff that we locals can't really get enough of.

The national coverage went off the path a bit. What I wanted to see and hear about was what was happening right then and there. But for the most part, especially during the parade, what the announcers were talking about had nothing to do with what was being shown on the screen.

As the new first couple left the Capitol building, the cameras showed a very interesting colonial marching band. I wondered ... is this a military band? A band from Colonial Williamsburg? Unfortunately, the announcers were interviewing some talking head pundent (I think it was Jesse Jackson in this case, on ABC) about race relations in the USA, blah-blah. This is what people have been talking about for MONTHS. Could they have not covered the moment and talked about what was happening? As my husband wryly commented, "Of course not ... that would take research. It is much easier to just snap photos and editorialize so you don't need to really know what is going on."

Some of the stations did better at times. I believe it was NBC who had a former police chief with them, and he was talking about security. For example: He noted that the motorcycle police had the side carts on their motorcycles so that the motorcycles would be stable at such low speeds. That was interesting.

Even if the quality of commentary was not exactly what I was hoping for, it was still great to see such an array of live coverage. It really felt like being there, but about 60-degrees warmer.

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