VATICAN CITY — Technical glitches can be a real pain on an ordinary work day and an absolute disaster when news is breaking.
So you can imagine the ripples of unease that were going through the Vatican press office this morning as some people noticed they were having Internet connection problems.
Pope Francis was due to announce the date of the canonizations of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII during a 10 a.m. gathering of cardinals and promoters of the candidates’ causes for sainthood.
Strangely, the CNS workstation had excellent Internet service, so our senior correspondent, Cindy Wooden, generously invited people to log onto our wireless connection if needed. Journalists are resourceful, and the patchy Internet didn’t seem to cause them any huge problems (the backup being: “call in the story.”)
But then people noticed the live audio feed wasn’t coming through on the press office’s main sound system. Many times we get a live video and/or an audio feed of important papal events that aren’t being broadcast on television, Vatican Radio or online.
Press hall staff were scurrying around unsuccessfully trying to figure out the problem. But for some reason, the CNS booth was the ONLY place where the live audio feed was coming in! Another JP2 miracle?!
Again, everyone made do with the snafu and we cranked our one lone speaker up to maximum volume. Soon a core group of writers for major wire services gathered outside our booth to hear the announcement.
I’m too young to have lived through this, but it made me think of what it must have been like in the pre-TV era when families gathered ’round a huge radio and whispered “sshhh” when the news was about to start.