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Dizzying array of media streams spotlight election
NEW YORK — The days of watching election night coverage on a single television set may soon be a quaint anachronism.
Americans have an array of alternatives for following returns on Tuesday night. Television news divisions are throwing everything they have into the story, and second-screen options are abounding.
People will be able to construct their own media experiences, seek out desired information instead of waiting for it, participate in conversations and hear analysis that reflects their own perspectives or none in particular.
Virtually all of the media organizations covering the election promise a huge amount of information available online, from interactive maps that display state-by-state results to data from exit polls.
It’s expected to be a big night for social media, and news organizations say they will monitor the conversations and have their own journalists actively participate.
Don’t forget show biz: NBC is turning the Rockefeller Center skating rink into a giant map of the United States to be filled in with results. ABC will make Times Square into a virtual studio, displaying results and coverage on huge video screens and having Josh Elliott prowl around gathering reactions.
Here’s a quick guide to the lineup:
• Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos are ABC’s anchor team, handling the job on election night for the first time. They have some big-name firepower backing them: Barbara Walters offering historical perspective and Katie Couric monitoring social media. A separate live stream, anchored by Dan Harris, will be shown on ABC and partner Yahoo’s websites. Clearly anticipating a late night, ABC has scheduled a special “Nightline” for 2:35 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
• NBC’s Brian Williams is the sole returning anchor from past election nights among the top three networks. David Gregory and Savannah Guthrie will join him, with anchor emeritus Tom Brokaw talking about trends and history. Chuck Todd will fill the nuts-and-bolts-numbers role handled memorably by the late Tim Russert. NBC will live stream its coverage on various platforms, including Facebook.
• Scott Pelley of CBS News will also be anchoring his first election night broadcast, with Bob Schieffer, Norah O’Donnell and John Dickerson joining him. Byron Pitts will monitor congressional races, and Anthony Mason will analyze exit poll data.
• CNN is activating a battalion for its coverage from its new Washington studio. Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper are the anchors, with 10 analysts lined up to deliver opinions. The network is also dispatching 29 reporters to 20 locations across the country, including five in Ohio and two in New Hampshire.
• Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly are co-anchors for Fox News Channel’s coverage, with analysis from Chris Wallace and Brit Hume. Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren will appear, the latter assigned to interview Sarah Palin throughout the evening. Fox also appears to be the only network with a reporter, Eric Shawn, assigned to cover voter fraud. The Fox broadcasting network airs separate coverage anchored by Shepard Smith. The Fox Business Network will also have its own coverage, anchored by Neil Cavuto with Stuart Varney and Lou Dobbs.
• Rachel Maddow is the star of MSNBC’s show, with the rest of the network’s prime-time team chiming in. Like big brother NBC, MSNBC’s coverage will originate from the Democracy Plaza set at Rockefeller Center.
• PBS is offering online coverage all day Election Day, switching to TV in the evening. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will be co-anchors. PBS has its own team of historians, Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith, to take the big picture approach.
By Tom Fitton
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