Editor's Blog

Editor’s Blog #3: Reflecting On Upcoming Trade Shows And Journalists’ Role

There was a lot of chatter in the #avtweeps Twittersphere yesterday as people watched my video interview with AVIXA’s Dave Labuskes. If you haven’t seen the interview, check it out.

No Plans To Cancel

Over the course of nearly 30 minutes, Labuskes made clear that he has no plans to cancel InfoComm 2021, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) variants notwithstanding. He underlined the health-and-safety measures that AVIXA is implementing, and he trumpeted what he described as strong exhibitor support. Numbers-wise, InfoComm 2021 has just under 400 exhibitors as I publish this, and on Wednesday Labuskes said another 120 or so have cancelled. As a point of comparison, InfoComm 2019 had nearly 950 exhibitors. So, clearly, if Labuskes and his team stage the show next month, it will be dramatically smaller. Almost certainly less than half the normal size.

As a journalist, I try to avoid editorializing except in exceptional circumstances. There is a contingent that seems almost to be crowing when they report another exhibitor has cancelled its trade-show participation. There’s another contingent that (quite reasonably) hand-wrings about the severity of the pandemic in a state like Florida. (That state’s government has tied the hands of local authorities and municipalities trying to control the spread.) And there’s yet another group that won’t be deterred by COVID-19 and whose members happily express their excitement about a metaphorical (literal?) #avtweeps group hug. I’m a proud member of our community, but I feel it’s not my place to urge AVIXA (or any association) to take any action. I’m a reporter—not an advocate.

Lighting In A Bottle

What I will say is that, as great as virtual events are, they are a pale imitation of in-person trade expositions. Networking via instant messaging is better than nothing, but it’s far from what all of us crave. Generating the energy and exuberance of a multi-thousand-person industry event is like capturing lighting in a bottle: It’s hard to do but electrifying when it happens. So, I hope that it’s possible for the AVIXA team to host a scaled-down and safe, but still effective and energizing, InfoComm 2021 next month despite the hindrances that Florida law has imposed on show organizers. I plan to be there. I miss all of you!

Meantime, Sound & Communications will continue to report the news, whether it’s exhibitor withdrawals, exhibitor signups, show postponements or cancellations, or exciting show-program details. We won’t crow about the challenges that one of our industry’s most important trade associations is facing. We won’t question anyone’s motives or sincerity. We’ll just share the facts—with a dash of hopefulness and a fervent wish for #avtweeps’ collective well-being.

Get vaccinated. Mask up. Stay safe.

For past iterations of the Editor’s Blog, click here.

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