MSNBC’s David Shuster is blogging from Rome. Here’s an excerpt from his Monday post: “The smoke started to get darker… and within minutes, the Vatican confirmed that the cardinals ended the day the way nearly everybody had expected, with a first ballot that produced no pope. For a few minutes though, it was an amazing scene as broadcasters and journalists of every stripe wondered what exactly was happening…”
None of the evening news anchors are on hand for the start of the Papal conclave, the AP’s David Bauder notes. While Brian Williams is in Oklahoma City, Lester Holt is leading the coverage from Vatican City. On ABC, Charlie Gibson is staying in NYC, with Bob Woodruff reporting from Rome. Bob Schieffer is also anchoring from NY, while John Roberts leads the coverage from Rome. Chris Jansing is on site for MSNBC, and Chris Wallace is anchoring on FNC.
The Chimney Cam premiered on all three cable news channels earlier today, as a box in the corner of the screen offered a live shot of the Papal Chimney at the Vatican. On CNN, anchor Kyra Phillips and analyst Delia Gallagher laughed as they struggled to identify the color of the smoke. “I can see this popping up on all the late night shows,” Kyra said. “What color is the smoke?!” FNC plastered a “No Decision” graphic on the bottom of the screen. E-mailer comments:
> “When the first smoke came out, you reeeeally couldn’t tell whether it was black or white,” FNC’s Greg Palkot said.
> CNN’s banner is “New Pope: The World Waits.” “How many of the only 1/5 of the world who are Catholic are waiting and how many are going about their daily lives?,” an e-mailer asks…
> MSNBC.com is offering a free “Smoke Cam” live shot.
> “Fox News has the worst setup for the Vatican Pipe cam as they are shrinking their regular video screen,” an e-mailer critiqued. I disagree: I think the split screen looked great.
> Some of the broadcast TV types are laughing at the continuous “Chimney Watch…”
> “This is the first time in the history of Earth that the crazy conclave chimney signals can be witnessed live on the Internet,” Sploid says.
FNC, CNN and MSNBC will go live to Rome at 4 a.m. as the Papal Conclave commences. On Fox, Chris Wallace will anchor live from Rome, along with correspondents Rick Leventhal, Greg Palkot and Greg Burke. CNN/U.S. will simulcast CNN International’s broadcast. Submit early morning coverage notes via the tip box…
> Plus: Pope John Paul II was “newsy,” NBC’s Stephen Weeke recalls
> Update: Inside Cable News liveblogged a bit of the coverage. “Fox is calling it ‘The Papal Conclave;’ CNN dubs it ‘The Next Pope;’ MSNBC goes with ‘Mass for the Papal Election.’”
The Media Research Center offers its interpretation of how the media covered the life and death of Pope John Paul II. The positive coverage of his passing “did not match the usual pattern of papal coverage over the decades of his pontificate,” they write, and list many examples.
The report also says that, over the years, “reporters often chose sides in what one called the battle between ‘tolerance and absolutism.’ In their passion for that fight, ‘tolerance’ gained the majority of the time, and ‘absolutism’ received the majority of the grief.” More…
Joann wonders via e-mail: “I kept hearing estimates that the Pope’s funeral attracted about 2 Billion people worldwide, and that it garnered the most viewers in all of TV history. If true, then the estimate of only 9 million who watched here in the U.S. is pretty paltry. It sounds like most Americans were pretty interested in watching the events of last week, but didn’t feel like getting up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, to watch this most historic event. I am actually pretty surprised at that low turnout, as I thought people seemed so obsessed with everything related to the Pope and his death.”
TV Week describes the “exodus” of U.S.-based anchors and correspondents from Rome: “Plans called for ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor Brian Williams-the only flagship newscast anchor representing the Big 3 broadcast networks-to head home. Same for Charlie Gibson, who had been in Rome all week for both ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘World News Tonight;’ Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith; MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ host Chris Matthews; and Harry Smith, who had been in Rome all week for ‘The Early Show’ on CBS. ‘Today’s’ Katie Couric was to relieve her co-host Matt Lauer from duty in St. Peter’s Square.” Many of them will be back on April 18…
“It’s too bad the cable TV news coverage of the Pope’s death has desensitized some Americans,” Bill O’Reilly writes in his weekly newspaper column. “The wall-to-wall commentary quickly became tiresome to many, and millions tuned out. That’s a shame, because Pope John Paul’s life is very much worth examining.” More…
For the media, now comes the hard part: Covering the Sacred College of Cardinals. Thomas Reese, worked with CNN during its coverage of John Paul’s funeral, tells Newsday that “the Vatican loves the media when they cover the show.” But: “It doesn’t love the media when they start coming backstage to find out how the next show is being put together.” He says the American cardinals will “go along with the silence agreement,” but the other cardinals “will continue to speak on background to their favorite reporters.”
“The funeral of Pope John Paul II was both a solemn ritual and a news event – and television networks that brought it live into American homes hours before the sun rose struggled to reconcile the two,” the Associated Press says. Here are David Bauder’s comments:
> ABC “was most aggressive in interrupting the Mass to talk about other issues.”
> “Fox News Channel helpfully used graphics to detail the hymns and readings during the Mass.”
> In general, NBC and the cable news nets “showed more restraint and willingness to let the events unfold.”
> “Although NBC’s Brian Williams, who teamed with Couric, only replaced Tom Brokaw in December, the NBC team seemed the most experienced in their roles.”