Pope Francis’s “Virtual Audience” on ABC News World News Tonight with David Muir and 20/20 mark the beginning of the media coverage of the pope’s apostolic journey to the United States. Via satellite the pope spoke directly to church communities in Los Angeles, Chicago and McAllen, Texas.
Here is my review of the ABC News broadcast published on 9/6/15 by America, the Jesuit weekly magazine:
On Friday evening, ABC News 20/20 will broadcast the conversation as a one-hour special, and later on ABC NewsDigital, there will be the complete video transcript both in Spanish and English.
For the full details, read the ABC News press release below.
Why is this interview and conversation such a coup for ABC News? The program is “unprecedented” since in the past the roll out of a papal trip typically begins with the pope leaving Rome. Give credit to the Vatican and ABC News, they know something about “strategic communication.” The idea here is to have the pope speak to people in places where he will not visit, and thus acknowledge the issue before it becomes a problem. Also, having the one-hour special at the beginning of a holiday weekend makes for a good programming decision, at the same time underscores the importance of the papal visit to the American audience.
A second, all important question is how adequate is Pope Francis’s English? From the World News segment, you see the pope trying very hard to be himself in a language that is not his own. However, the result is that Pope Francis is very competent in his English and his emotional quality comes through. For the US visit, the pope will preside at Masses in Spanish and Latin; and his speeches will be mostly in Spanish. Tonight’s example on ABC of his English conversation, and mostly his give and take with the audiences gives enough evidence that the pope’s English will work just fine.
A third point about David Muir. His Spanish also appears to be good and worth noting The fact that he does speak Spanish may say something about how ABC had the edge in getting this pre-tour “virtual audience.” Both Pope Francis and John Muir handled one another with great ease, and with a sense that “history is about to be made” with the pope’s forthcoming visit to Cuba and the United States.
This is the ABC News press release which came to me as a surprise this morning when it was released.
From: “Scott, Van Jr” < Van.Scott@abc.com>
Date: August 31, 2015 at 7:22:45 PM GMT+2
To: “Scott, Van Jr” < Van.Scott@abc.com>
Subject: Pope Francis Holds a Virtual Audience with American People in a Historic Global Event Moderated by ABC’s David Muir from the Vatican
PHOTO (Pope Francis and David Muir): http://bit.ly/1LFLkgx
POPE FRANCIS HOLDS A VIRTUAL AUDIENCE WITH AMERICAN PEOPLE IN A HISTORIC GLOBAL EVENT MODERATED BY ABC’S DAVID MUIR FROM THE VATICAN
Today the Pope Spoke with Hundreds of People from Los Angeles, Chicago and McAllen, Texas via Satellite Ahead of His First U.S. Visit
“Pope Francis and the People,” a One-Hour Special Edition of “20/20,” Airs September 4 at 10 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network
David Muir Anchors a Special Edition of “World News Tonight” from the Vatican on Monday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m., ET
On Monday, August 31, Pope Francis held the first-ever televised virtual audience with Americans, a historic event moderated by “World News Tonight” Anchor David Muir from the Vatican. In the first-of-its-kind global gathering, which will be part of an ABC News special on Friday, September 4, Pope Francis heard the stories of the people while delivering his message to hundreds in Chicago, Los Angeles, and McAllen, Texas simultaneously from the Vatican via satellite.
“Pope Francis and the People,” a one-hour primetime special edition of “20/20,” airs on the ABC Television Network on Friday, September 4 at 10 p.m., ET. Muir will anchor a special edition of “World News Tonight” from the Vatican on Monday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m., ET.
During the interactive virtual audience, the Pope spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, individuals from homeless shelters near Skid Row in Los Angeles, and immigrants at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen. It was an opportunity for the Pope to connect in a new way with people in places he wanted to visit, but is unable to during his highly anticipated trip to the United States. ABC News’ broadcast will air 18 days before Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S.
ABC News “World News Tonight” Weekend Anchors Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas and Fusion Anchor Mariana Atencio will report on the ground in each city.
All ABC News programs will report on the special event this week. ABC News Digital will air the original taping with the Pope in English and Spanish after the special airs on Friday, September 4. ABC News Radio and ABC NewsOne will provide special programming of the special broadcast to radio stations and affiliates.
ABC News Media Relations:
Van Scott / firstname.lastname@example.org /(212) 456-7243