Convening, but not really.

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

This posed promo picture from ABC in 1952 was meant to symbolize the vast resources brought to play in covering these events. Um. Two guys and a camera guy?

In 1952, American television provided coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions, and they were only able to get the pictures out of the city of Chicago because AT&T had recently finished the first TV-capable transcontinental coaxial cable (an investment of some 40 million dollars.)

The Republican convention, held first, was conducted under some fairly draconian specifications for the TV people…for example, they could shoot only from the extreme sides of the auditorium. The Democrats learned from those missteps and, notably, contracted a towering scaffold right in the middle of the attendees so the speakers at the podium would be easily seen. Their politicians were front and center, and in better lighting. It’s always about the pictures.

We are now in the second decade (or is it starting the third?) of the 21st century, and the two parties are conducting something they are calling a convention, but because of the pandemic, what we will see will probably be closer to the world’s fanciest Zoom call, with speakers in little boxes, waving, and…I don’t know? Real crowd noise? Fake crowd noise? I guess we’ll see, if we bother to watch the foregone conclusions on both sides.

Even as a diehard broadcasting type person, I’m having trouble moving that to the top of our viewing priorities.