It was like a moment from “Star Wars.” On Election Night 2008, CNN beamed a “hologram” reporter from its Chicago set-up at the Barack Obama celebration in Grant Park back to its news coverage set. “Stepping into” the studio picture, correspondent Jessica Yellin evoked the projection of Princess Leia from R2D2 (“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi!”), right down to her other-worldly shimmer, as she began her conversation with Wolf Blitzer.
That created a signature moment in CNN’s coverage that night. It also had David Bohrman’s fingerprints all over it. So will Current TV with his new position as that channel’s president.
I first encountered Bohrman’s future-is-today technology salesmanship in the 2000 election cycle, when he successfully convinced both the Republican and Democratic conventions to put Pseudo.com, his Internet television news service, into the coverage mix – including a skybox studio, just like the broadcast and cable networks.
There was full-blown anchoring and interviews and 360-degree cameras. Even in those dot.com boom days, though, the vision was ahead of the dollars and pseudo.com didn’t make it, not even finishing the second of the two political conventions.
Obviously that did not deter Bohrman. Before and after that venture, he successfully pursued multiple news and technology opportunities. As CNN Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, he took full advantage to push the technology possibilities in presenting the news, such as the hologram feed, while keeping an eye on the bread-and-butter of basic coverage.
At the 2010 State of the Union, CNN unveiled its “Magic Wall” for displaying Twitter feeds and Bohrman was right there explaining how this enabled them to harness all the “noise” of Twitter into something that could cluster opinions and trends for better understanding.
So now it’s on to the land of Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and Keith Olbermann. No guarantees, of course, but Hyatt did observe to the Hollywood Reporter that in searching for senior level expertise “All roads led to David Bohrman.”
Having known Bohrman more than a decade, I’m simply looking forward to what he’ll come up with next, not-so-secretly hoping for another “Star Wars” moment.
© 2011 Walter J. Podrazik