I went to RomeReports yesterday to watch Pope Francis’ Wednesday General Audience. The video is nearly an hour. It begins as usual with the pope circulating through the gathered crowd, stopping periodically to kiss a child held up to him, trying on skull caps handed to him, waving and I assume blessing people.
As I watched, it occurred to me that at times it appears that a large crowd is with him that day. Then at other times, it appears that those along the route are four or five deep and none behind them. I realized it was not easy to see whether the crowd was large, although I had the impression that it could have been.
Then, I realized what was happening. Most of the video are close-ups of the pope and the people gathered. Farther shots are also failing to give a clear picture of the numbers present. The video was taken from the middle and side, or from the rear from the side but not showing the whole plaza. It was rare to see a view from the front looking out over the crowd. In the few images from that angle, which did not last very long, people can be seen walking back and forth in the rear of the plaza as the pope speaks. While it is difficult to say for sure, it does appear that more people were there than for Ash Wednesday where he managed a bit more than 9,000.
I have noted previously that the crowds seem to be more sparse for the General Audiences than earlier in his pontificate, and I have referred readers to the video feed from RomeReports. Other blogs have also noted this falling off phenomena, such as the Call Me Jorge and Rorate Coeli.
Apparently, whoever is responsible for the television video has taken measures it seems to me to help the pope by changing the angles, using mostly close-ups shots and showing very brief longer view shots. I cannot say that this is the doing of RomeReports because it appears that the same video is found at Catholictv.org. Are these Vatican employees who make an official Vatican video that is shared with the media?
Like elsewhere in the life of the Church today, the Church media has become like the secular. No longer committed to bringing the story as it is, it now works to create the fantasy they would have us believe and to obscure what is really happening.