Friday, February 20, 2009

More Thoughts on #Obamawa

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who retweeted/linked to my blog on Watching #Obamawa. I'm looking at you, @mathewi. The extra traffic was amazing - and that's great for my ego!

//Silly economic downturn destroying media jobs... *grumble grumble*

Also, I'd like to thank @josephlavoie for pointing out that #Obamawa was most likely a hybrid between Obama and Ottawa. Duh! I totally should have figured that one out!!

And now that I'm done with housekeeping stuff, I just wanted to share a few more thoughts on the whole experience.

What worked with CBC's coverage of Obama's visit to Canada? What made it compelling enough to watch for hours, even as Peter Mansbridge himself laughed at the incredulity of the whole media waiting game?

It wasn't the coverage, per se, or the super cool camera angles (robo cam on microwave truck, anyone?), or having reporters actually stationed at various locations key to Obama's visit agenda. It was the personableness of the whole experience.

It was Mansbridge, really. (And his team of producers, directors, camera operators, audio and lighting techs, switchers, etc)

Seriously, though, it was the way Mansbridge included the audience and involved them in HIS experience of covering Obama. When he mentioned to Keith Boag that he couldn't hear him because the producers were talking in his ear. Or when he laughed at himself for filling time by reading the lunch menu. Or explaining why that microwave truck robo cam shot was so shaky, or how they listened to the tape of the GG/Obama photo op again to clarify what had been said.

It was his references to the whole team working behind the scenes to make the show fit for air, to provide content so we don't get bored and switch channels, and most importantly, to keep us caring about what Obama is up to at this very second.

Mansbridge, with his demeanor and openness, effectively invited the audience into his living room, into the studio, into his life. He shared a bit of the magic with viewers across the country and across the world at, and that's what kept us hooked.

Even for someone like myself who has been in studios and control rooms and worked on live productions, getting that extra bit of information is gold. Maybe it's even better for me, because I can actually hear the control room conversations and almost feel the stress of the live environment. But bringing the show to life by revealing little secrets about how much work actually goes into producing that kind of stellar content is what gives CBC, and Mansbridge, a boost. It's what makes it stand out from other broadcasters.

The only noticeable exception of the network acknowledging itself is the @cbcyourvoice Twitter account possibly purposefully choosing not to retweet comments about the quality or content choices of CBC productions, but rather only comments on the news that is actually being covered. Understandably, since they could argue that retweeting positive comments would force them to potentially damage the network by retweeting negative comments in a quest for balance. But I think the willingness to expose themselves to criticism in that way would only enhance their profile and increase the trust Canadians put in the CBC. But that's just my opinion.

Overall, CBC definitely stood out by its inclusion of basically all media types in its coverage of #Obamawa. Live online coverage, thanks to, some tweeting - though more would have been appreciated - by @cbcyourvoice, quick article and photo updates on, along with live camera feeds - which I still haven't figured out the whole production aspect of... Mobile or control room? More than one producer? - and of course, broadcasting on CBC local and CBC Newsworld, as well as CBC Radio One.

Quite a production, wouldn't you say?

Then again, would you expect any less for POTUS' first official visit?

Good job to everyone at CBC. I applaud you.

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