Television and cable news networks are sparing no expense or technology for Tuesday’s Election Day coverage. Building-size banners, interviews with holograms, a virtual reality U.S. Capitol building, reporter “Launch Pads,” electronic clipboards, magic maps and magic walls are just a few of the gizmos networks will use to help viewers count to 270 electoral votes.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’s night of coverage begins in its normal time slot and again starting at 9 p.m. for special Election Day coverage. Check your local listings.
Here is what some of the networks are planning:
ABC: Times Square will turn into a New Years Eve-like destination, as three screens, including one that’s 23-stories tall, will broadcast ABC coverage with Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. There will be no Dick Clark countdown or ball dropping, however, when either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama hits 270 electoral college votes.
NBC and MSNBC: Beginning at 4 p.m.: A giant electoral map will be projected onto the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, and throughout the night states will light up red or blue as they are called. Also marking the progress to 270, banners representing electoral college votes for Sens. McCain and Obama will climb 16 stories on 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Brian Williams leads NBC’s coverage with Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell, while David Gregory anchors at MSNBC, joined by Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson. Correspondents Ann Curry and Chuck Todd will be in studio surrounded by virtual reality graphics. No one will be on skates.
CBS: Katie Couric is joined by Jeff Greenfield, Bob Schieffer and no gizmos. At 2 a.m., Couric goes off the air and onto CBSNews.com.
CNN: Fourteen political analysts will cover just about every angle of every vote in every state. And this number does not even include CNN reporters in the field or CNN’s five-person in-studio team of Wolf Blitzer, Campbell Brown, Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper and John King, who will be orchestrating the Magic Wall breaking down electoral votes and scenarios as he was during the primaries.
New this election on CNN will be a virtual reality U.S. Capitol building to help keep track of House and Senate races and holograms of interviewees in far-away places so they can appear in studio with Blitzer. No word on whether Cooper rolls out the magic 3D pie chart this time.
Fox News Channel: Brit Hume, Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace lead the FOX team with analysts Karl Rove, Howard Wolfson, Juan Williams, Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Nina Easton and Charles Krauthammer. They’re all joined by Smith at the “Cube,” Megyn Kelly at the “Launch Pad,” Bill Hemmer at the “Bill-Board” and Bret Baier at the “Balance of Power,” fancy interactive tools that rely on video, data-rich graphics and virtual reality.
Online, all of the networks, including the NewsHour, will feature myriad other options, with blogs, live result pages, stat-heavy maps, live video feeds from candidates’ headquarters, Twitter feeds, mobile phone updates and smart phone sites.