Smoke Watch: Day 1
posted at 1:54 pm on March 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
(VATICAN CITY) After the “extra omnes” signaled the start of the papal conclave, the media center has been full, or very nearly so, waiting to see whether the cardinals will take a vote tonight or not. Vatican TV has live video of the crowd that formed during the procession and which remained despite significant rain and cold winds today, although the skies have apparently cleared somewhat. Four giant TV screens stand in the corners of St. Peter’s Square, displaying the view from the official camera shot of the chimney that will signal whether a vote has succeeded and selected the new Pope, or failed with more attempts tomorrow.
Unknown to me until now was that La Sala Stampa had two media centers in operation — one at my location, and another where I originally picked up my credentials. They closed the other center at 5 pm and sent the journalists here. That may be why they were so quick to add new work stations, and they were needed. During the procession it was standing room only, but at the moment it’s only two-thirds full. They also added a second wi-fi network, as the first was getting overloaded and intermittently failing altogether.
At this point it might be another hour before we’ll see the results of today’s conclave start. I’m sticking around the media center because (a) I have one of the hardwire connections, and (b) if the impossible happened and the conclave was settled on the first vote, I’d be kicking myself if I had assumed differently and had left the building. Besides, even though I’m inside, we’re still getting a beautiful night view of St. Peter’s Basilica, and I’ll miss that when I have to leave Rome.
Update: To clarify a little, the cardinals can decide whether or not to hold a vote tonight; they are not required to do so, according to yesterday’s press briefing. They may or may not choose to do so, and the only way we’ll know is if we either see smoke or they leave the Sistine Chapel for dinner (the media center will be alerted in that case).