Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Was (Not) There

Every morning, I turn on the TODAY show so I have something to watch and listen to while I get ready for work. That's where I first saw the images of the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson River. It's where I heard the interview of Casey Anthony's ex-fiancée. It's also where I learned how to escape from a car that has crashed and is sinking into the river.

Some of the TODAY segments are admittedly fluffy, but I often like how they approach subjects/news. So, between that and the way NBC has been hyping it's "continuous live coverage" of Inauguration Day events, my expectations ran high for the 20 or so minutes that TODAY was on in my apartment.

Instead, the camera was focused on the back door of the Blair House every second my TV was on this morning. NBC was waiting for Obama to exit and get into the town car, but he and Michelle were running late.

I suppose this is a risk that comes with "continuous live coverage”; unexpected things occur, like Obama running late, and they don’t know how to fill the time. The commentators (who might have been in New York, I don’t know; they never once showed them) tried filling the time by talking about how today was history in the making. One of the commentators also mentioned that when Obama and Michelle left the Blair House, whenever that might be, it would be the audience’s first chance to see what the Obamas were wearing.

Don’t get me wrong. I was and am just as excited as the next person for Bush’s last day and the new beginning that Obama promises to usher in. But, seriously, after all this hype, I get to watch the back door of the Blair House?? Even when they went to a reporter standing outside of the White House, reporting on the final hours of the Bush presidency, the TODAY show producers split the screen so we could still watch the Blair House and wait for Obama.

I wanted to see the crowd forming in the National Mall (they cut to that for about two seconds). I wanted to hear from the people about what this day means to them. But, instead, I got to watch the back door of the Blair House. What is the value of ‘live coverage’ when it just means watching a door? Does it symbolize how long we’ve waited for this day??

I was there in Chicago’s Grant Park on Election Night. I was there to see Obama become President-Elect. I was there to see excitement and happiness exude from each and every person in that crowd. But I was not there in the National Mall—where the crowd was double what it was on Election Night—to witness Obama’s inauguration live and in person.

Perhaps I’m venting about the TODAY show’s focus on the Blair House back door just because I’m disappointed at not being there today. Or, maybe I just didn’t get lucky in the 15 minutes of news coverage that I got to see this morning. Or, perhaps TV news stations should reconsider doing live coverage every single moment of today, and focus on the importance of this day in other, more memorable, ways.

I’ve been watching different parts of the live coverage (which, admittedly, I did record), and my favorite parts are hearing Obama speak, seeing the crowd’s excitement, and hearing what this day means to people the world over. But, this morning, I got to see the back of Blair House.

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