T-minus 24 hours. Television news organizations have been preparing for Election Day 2008 with about as much anticipation as the politicians themselves.
The event is like the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Academy Awards all wrapped up in one broadcast. Several networks just announced plans to unveil major new tech toys to get poll results to the public as soon as possible. Tomorrow you will be introduced to a “magic wall,” a “launchpad” and watch as NBC and ABC turn two New York City landmarks – Rockefeller Center and Times Square – into virtual TV studios.
Here’s what else you can expect from the major networks:
NBC News is planning to imprint a map of the United States on the Rockefeller Center skating rink. The states on the map will be illuminated blue or red as they are called for Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain. The network is also erecting giant banners for each candidate that will climb 16 stories up 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The banners will reportedly mark the progress of each candidate as all 270 electoral votes come in.
Analysts Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell will join Brian Williams at NBC’s anchor desk. Noticeably missing will be Tim Russert, whose presence brought in the biggest numbers during Election Night 2000 and 2004.
ABC News is adding three giant video screens to the light show that is Times Square. Anchor Bill Weir will be stationed under the screens to get reactions from people watching the vote. ABC’s main hub will be the “Good Morning America” studios in New York where Charlie Gibson will team with Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.
CBS will be using their website as an aid for Katie Couric and crew (Jeff Greenfield and Bob Schieffer) to get feedback from the American public as the votes come in.
Fox is using Shepard Smith and Brit Hume to anchor its coverage. Fox is also using Election Night to debut its “launchpad,” a technology, producers say, uses a control pad to allow reporters to quickly customize visual elements like results, maps and live shots.
The cable news network is going hi-tech with its “magic wall” that allows anchor John King to bend and shape information (it was parodied recently on “Saturday Night Live”). The wall has been upgraded to have a virtual-reality Capitol to track control of Congress, and a holograph projection device that can make it appear as though someone being interviewed in a separate city is in CNN’s New York studio.
Which network will you be tuning into on Election Night?