The 58th Presidential Inauguration

The 58th Presidential Inauguration, January 20, 2017

Though the presidential campaign and election were anything but ordinary this time around, news coverage of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States mostly adhered to norms. NABET-CWA members from various news outlets worked on Capitol Hill, the parade route and the evening inaugural balls. Members of the press “pool” – NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News – split up these responsibilities on Inauguration Day, tracking President Donald Trump’s moves through the traditions and rituals of our nation’s transfer of power.

            Coverage of the inauguration spread across all media platforms, offering TV, radio and online audiences in the United States and around the world a view of the day’s events. Viewers were able to live stream from more news organizations than ever before, including NBC News, CBS News, Telemundo, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Politics, USA Today, YouTube and The Washington Post.

            This was the eighth inauguration for ABC cameraman Brian Haefeli, who has been a NABET-CWA member since 1986, when he started his career at CNN. He’s also worked at NBC and FOX before becoming a Daily Hire with ABC. His first inauguration was George H.W. Bush, when his parents came down and sat on the front lawn of the Capitol. In those days, security was minimal, with no metal detectors or fences.

            In 2017, Haefeli’s inauguration prep began the Sunday before at the network trailer on Capitol Hill, where the ABC crew – including about 25 NABET-CWA members from Washington, D.C. and New York – plus reporters and producers – spent the next five days setting up and rehearsing. Prior to their arrival, technical crews ran cables between the platforms and production trucks.

            Inauguration Day itself started at 3:15 a.m., when the bus picked the ABC crews up from their hotel and took them to their location on the Hill. Haefeli ran camera for a Special Edition of Good Morning America and was stationed on the press tower at the Capitol. Thankfully, the forecasted deluge of rain never came to pass as they were told they couldn’t use umbrellas or, for that matter, anything stamped with their media outlet’s name on it (including mic flags). GMA was on the air from 7:00 a.m. until 4 p.m., with live reports and cut-ins from various reporter locations in D.C.

            After breaking down and pulling cables, Haefeli’s day wrapped up around 8 p.m., earlier than past inaugurations, he noted, since he usually works late into the night at the inaugural balls. The other noted difference was the weather – the warmest he’s worked (Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural in 1981 is the warmest on record: 55 degrees at noon).

            According to Haefeli, their coverage ran smoothly, thanks in part to the skill of the NABET-CWA crews from New York who have extensive experience pulling off special events for Good Morning America in Times Square each week: “These NABET-CWA guys from New York really knew what they were doing. Everyone was pretty happy and there were no real problems,” he said of their team’s coverage.