For many people in our group, one of the great highlights in the program was the visit to CNN, the headquaters of the very first 24/7 news station and probably still one of the most trusted news sources in the world. Everyone was all excited and “dressed professionally” (as they like to advise us). Since I’d been here before it soon became apparent to me that we were booked on a regular tour and had the chance to talk to someone from PR and a senior editor afterwards. The tour was, as one may imagine, quite a disappointment because it never even got us close to what was going on behind sealed glass fronts. Since we had walked through newsrooms and studios on other tours before and even sat in on live broadcasts, for many this was a big bummer. And it turned out that many of the interesting people and anchors aren’t even stationed in Atlanta. What I found quite interesting, though, is a new technique they have started to use at CNN, which we could observe for a while: They use steadicams on the news set. I’ve re-labeled it “Blair Witch News.” What it means is that a cameraman with a steadicam is in the studio and films screens or runs across the room to get closer to a screen or the anchor. This gives the image that airs a slightly shaky touch, which should make it more intersting to watch. So, while other news studios we visited have replaced all camera operators from the set and have cameras operated via remote heads, CNN uses steadicams in the studio, which, quite frankly, looks totally absurd when you watch it (I mean the scene itself, not necessarily the broadcast).
The discussion after the tour (which they cut short because we were such a difficult group that asked so many quesitons we did not even get to the part of CNN International or iReport) was quite alright and certainly not part of the common tourism experienc but again it did not quite live up to everyone’s expectations.
It was a really hot day (around 36°C) and we spent another two hours or so before our tour at Coca Cola. Children played at the fountain at Centenniel Olympic Park, which was fun to watch. At Coca Cola we had tickets for the exhibition, which was a very touristic experience. Still, on a meta-level, there was an enormous amount of things to see, learn, and discuss; about corporate politics, PR, the use of oral history in ‘museum’ exhibits, American Culture, and Coca Cola as a trademark and their new image campaigns. So we did have a good time there, even though I think it could not have been the initial intention of Coca Cola to approach the exhibition from the angle some of us did. What I enjoyed in particular was a film screening of Coca Cola advertisements since the beginning of TV and how Coca Cola has shaped TV commercials as a genre. I’m sure there is already a ton of research availabe on this topic but it would still be interesting to explore this further.
Since there was nothing scheduled for the evening, we just walked around in the Atlanta Undergroud area and noticed several busses that all said “To Stadium.” Explorers at heart, two of us jumped on one of these busses and ended up in a baseball game, my first live ballgame in the USA. It was the local team (Braves) against the San Francisco Giants and the Braves won. I still haven’t figured out all the rules but it was a great event and most certainly an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.