“I want you to watch what we’re about to do,” CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer warned his audience, “because you’ve never seen anything like this on television.”[1]

On November 4, 2008, just hours before America elected its first African-American president, CNN reached a milestone of its own. For the first time in the history of live television, the news was reported via hologram.

Like a bad episode of Star Trek, CNN political correspondent Jessica Yellin was “beamed” into the studio, materializing only a few feet away from Blitzer. She said hello, chatted briefly about electoral math, and then faded back into oblivion. The whole thing was over in about 90 seconds, but it was an incredibly strange moment that became a running joke in late night TV.

For all the flak they got, you really can’t blame CNN for pulling out all the stops. The 2008 election culminated in the highest-rated news coverage since 1980, totalling more than 71 million viewers all around the world. Those are Super Bowl numbers, and CNN, like every other major network, was scrambling for a competitive edge.

As we roll into this year’s presidential election, networks are expected unveil another batch of new technology. Touch screens, interactive maps, realtime social media monitoring — anything to help visualize and make sense of raw election data. Historically, some of these tools have become industry standards (Tim Russert’s “red states” and “blue states” terminology, for example), but some of them, like CNN’s holographic reporter, have died out before inauguration.

The hologram was unique in that it served absolutely no purpose, journalistic or otherwise. It didn’t improve, clarify, or better Yellin’s reporting in any way. If anything, it distracted us from what she and Blitzer were talking about. As information becomes more interactive and data-driven, it’s important to present that information in a substantive way—to attract, engage, and inform the audience.

At South Central A\V, we create immersive, meaningful customer experiences for businesses of all sizes. We are going to sit down with you, look at your business and find the technology that will work best for you —  not just the technology that is the newest or most expensive. We want to help grow your brand and your business, and we don’t need to bust your budget to do it. To learn more about what we do, check out what services we provide or contact us at the South Central A\V location nearest you!