It hasn’t reached 90 degrees outside this month, but the Convention felt the heat anyway.
Hundreds of reporters and their crews came to Minneapolis to follow one of the most-watched stories this summer. The influx of people — and technology — is unprecedented for a Convention that used to register all its guests by hand.
In-house television and streaming video online served as official Episcopal news outlets for the first time.
Less than one mile from the convention center, a television production studio intercepted recorded broadcasts from members of the Convention news team. Each day, Episcopal Church Center employees and a local production crew collaborated to create a 30-minute newscast.
Mike Collins, the show’s production manager, said the biggest challenge he faced was creating a balanced show about an issue that captured the nation’s attention.
“It was challenging for everybody … to not necessarily make [the show] into a soapbox for one side,” Collins said.
Another layer of Convention coverage was found on the Internet. A link from the Episcopal Church’s Web site takes Convention news junkies to online versions of the Convention Daily, reports from the Episcopal News Service – the wire news service at Convention – and a Web cast of the nightly news program.
Ed Cimafonte, who worked with the Web site, said the work has been “pretty insane.”
“The pace has been a fever pitch because we were trying to launch as much as posssibleof the new Web site [which will debut after Convention] to get it in front of the crowd and get feedback,” Cimafonte said.
Patrick Hill, a volunteer from the diocese of Northern California, said he was impressed with the Web site staff’s ability to file so much information on the site so quickly.
“I’ve been to four conventions and this is the most advanced and sophisticated system the Convention has ever used,” Hill said. “We were able to publish articles the minute after they were filed [by the news staff].”
Cimafonte said he was proud of the diversity of stories presented.
“The amount of information … hopefully has provided a much more in-depth view of a Convention that has received national coverage basically for just one issue,” he said.
But because Gene Robinson’s consent process took such a prominent place in newscasts around the world, the Church’s Web site registered a 4,000 percent increase in visitors during the past two weeks, Cimafonte said.
Convention news still will be available on the Episcopal Church Web site, www.episcopalchurch.org, after Convention concludes.
Electronic voting devices in both the houses also were introduced this year. Many delegates said the electronic devices made them feel more secure that the votes were counted correctly.
“It’s very quick and kind of intriguing to be able to [vote] that way,” said the Rev. Tamsen Whistler, a deputy from the diocese of Missouri. “I like the fact that the [option of an electronic] vote can be there to settle any question of a vocal vote.”
Connie Segura, a deputy from Honduras, attended the Convention in Indianapolis in 1994 — before the advent of electronic voting.
“Everything is easier this way,” Segura said.
She also said she hopes advances in voting technology will appear in Honduras.
“I’m getting anxious to have [this technology] in my country,” Segura said. “We didn’t even know it exists.”
By the Numbers
COVERAGE AFTER ROBINSON COSENT
- Reporters in line Tuesday to enter press area of the House of Bishops: 40
- Seats available to press: 27
- Length of longest wait: 3 hours, 45 minutes
- Seats in the visitors gallery of the House of Bishops: 302 (all filled)
- TV cameras at the press conference after the confirmation of Bishop-elect Gene Robinson: 12
- Reporters in House of Bishops press area Wednesday morning: 8
(by Richelle Thompson)