Friday, November 9, 2012

Post Election Stuff

As you might imagine, this was a busy week in the TV biz, although things cooled down quite a bit after the elections. It wasn't quite the long night I expected, after weeks of dire forecasts of deadlocked vote counts, late provisional ballots, and a battleground state full of undecided voters. We got the word that Obama was the winner during the 11 newscast, which provided the ultimate breaking news announcement during a newscast. But apparently, not as exciting as watching Karl Rove on Fox News go into labor and deliver a nest of monkeys when he heard the news.

Actually, I don't blame the guy. It was a bit surprising. Obama took Ohio? What are the other networks saying? Obama wins on all four majors? Aw man, and I just ordered extra large pizzas for the newsroom.

The networks kept things relatively low-tech Tuesday, relying on pretty much the same technology they use on a daily basis to get the job done. NBC went full-on theater tech with the transformation of Rockefeller Square into Democracy Square by painting a map of the US into the ice rink and overlaying either red or blue state cut-outs as the votes came in. I liked it, even if it was a little cutesy. Even so, there's bound to be at least one technological break-out during election coverage, and in this case it comes during a video clip of a WABC reporter on a live shot. Up until that day, mic flags were innocent little pieces of plastic with the station's "brand" appearing on all four sides. On election day, that changed with the introduction of the electronic mic flag. Affixed to the mic was something like a mobile phone screen, displaying an ever-changing, spinning, whirling, dancing series of WABC, Channel 7, ABC propaganda. Unfortunately, the gee-whiz factor of this device was blown away by the fact that the reason the rest of the country has been seeing this video clip is because the reporter made an embarrassing gaffe during a live shot. All this proves once again that all the technical smoke and mirrors on the microphone can't make up for an airhead reporter holding the microphone.

At our station, we also learned that election day, with 300 kabillion people on social media, is a bad time to use Skype for a live interview.

The big buzz from election night is the controversy over whether or not Diane Sawyer was drunk on the air. Personally, I could've used a whiskey sour myself at around 9:00, so I can understand the urge to lubricate the vocal chords with a little gasoline before going on the air. But rest assured, Diane was not blotto. The combination of lack of sleep, and having a thing in her ear called an Interrupted Feed Back (IFB) earpiece with the voice of the director telling her things like "We don't have the live shot, stay on camera three!" or "Our power is out! We gotta stay in studio. Diane, keep talking!" would make anybody seem disoriented. As for slurred speaking, if you've ever tried to tell someone something important over the phone while your 3-year-old is babbling something about something... Yeah, you know what I mean.

Now, we at the station face the daunting task of searching for dozens of now out-dated political ads and unceremoniously hitting the delete button on each one, thus forever flushing them out of existence. Hey, there's a positive side to election day after all.

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