Help me, Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope
So, during its election coverage last night, CNN debuted its new hologram technology that makes field reporters seem to be in the studio. Here's the clip:
What's the point of the hologram technology (which I assume involves the reporter/interviewee standing in front of a green screen)? If you're sending a reporter into the field, isn't showing what's going on in the background around them providing more useful context to the viewer than just showing more of the studio set?
Maureen Ryan does think that there are some benefits to getting the correspondent out of the scrum and into a cordoned off area to give a more coherent report. But why the hologram? Why not have the correspondent do a voice over over footage of the event that she's reporting?
What I found so aggravating about watching coverage (particularly of the speeches at the end of the night) was the need for the on-air personalities to make sure that there was someone talking at all times (Brian Williams and Katie Couric were the ones I noticed exhibiting this trait, but I just happened to be between NBC and CBS at the time). After Obama's speech, instead of just showing the crowds and letting the viewers listen to their cheering, both Williams and Couric were talking about "what [Obama] must feel" and such.
This is a symptom of the same hubris that led to CNN's expensive hologram. Instead of using the TV medium to show us the news and use visuals to provide useful analysis, the networks seem more obsessed with showing the importance their news teams coverage of events rather than the intrinsic importance of those events. Instead of sending more reporters and crews out in the field to get different opinions from the electorate, CNN spent that money on a hologram booth.
None of the channels I watched had much interesting to discuss during the lulls between reporting results. The exit poll demographics are moderately interesting. Some of the analysis can be useful (especially having someone like CNN's Jeffery Toobin on hand to explain the legal issues of voting that might come up during the night.) But much of it is no more than pundits being in love with their own voices.
Fred Armisen playing with the touchscreen map on SNL's Weekend Update may be one of the more perceptive media critiques of this campaign.
(The obvious headline shamelessly borrowed from Sepinwall)