Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My affiliation with ABC's WLS-TV in Chicago has been lively in 2008-2009. Who wouldn't want to get out of bed at 4 a.m. 15 or more times during the presidential campaign and the aftermath? Somewhere begin the creative messages of advertising, the lede of a press release, or the offer of a on-line or print direct promotional; the 3 minutes on-air gives the audience, the interviewer and interviewee a challenge to summarize and find the most poignant ideas to review. The challenge after the election was to provide insight to the corruption charges and impeachment process against the current governor of Illinois - Rod Blagojevich. We were also in a muddle of political game playing in Illinois over the appointment of Roland Burris to become the new junior Senator of Illinois to replace Barack Obama as he assumed the role of President. So, it was a relief to be asked to anticipate the inaugural events and to summarize the event the day after.
The day before: Asked by on-air reporter and talent Judy Hsu "What will we hear in today's speech?" and "what other inaugural themes is he pulling from?": I noted that the audience would hear a continuation of the successful campaign messages (why change?). It was likely to be inclusive, progressive and authentic. I suggested that we might listen for a subtle criticism of Illinois politics which continued to embarrass Obama after the election. Themes from the John F. Kennedy inaugural speech ("ask not") and the same for Franklin D. Roosevelt ("fear itself") were touted by the press as likely messages (and an expectation that Obama would meet the same or higher standards. Now, that's pressure! Obama did indirectly reference JFK by asking us to "pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off" and his request for us to serve. He also invoked fear as a concept to overcome. Asked "How long until 'honeymoon's over': The phrase is applied to CEO's, Mao and presidents. Of course the phrase and the time will depend on other events - in Obama's case the economy. More on the day of the inauguration.

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