I did not think that I would have any more to write regarding this week’s election once I sat down to watch the election returns Tuesday night. I always have enjoyed watching the Election Day returns. On Tuesday evening I started watching CBS and then bounced to NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC just to see what and how the various stations were handling it. For the most part the major over the air network approaches are similar with local breaks off the network every half hour.
The New York Times reported http://nyti.ms/WInBGH that this year 66.8 million people between 8 and 11, watched one of the 13 www.Nielsen.com networks that broadcast coverage. That’s down slightly from the 2008 election.
CBS (comes on first on my cable system TV when the box is turned on – no small thing), with Scott Pelley and the beautiful Norah O’Donnell (a reason to pay attention and I know she’s smart but even on TV I get mesmerized by those blue eyes) was doing a good job until the network went to local news at 11PM after NBC had just called the Presidential election for Barack Obama. Note to CBS – you totally blew ELECTION NIGHT coverage by running yet another story on Sandy (and other local stories) during a local break while NBC and ABC were eating your lunch. To make matters worse the clumsy hand over back to the network from capable NY local broadcaster Maurice Dubois was – awkward to say the least and unprofessional at worst. I wonder if there’s any correlation that CBS had far fewer viewers than NBC (the ratings winner) and FOX NEWS (not FOX network).
When I think about Election Day television coverage over the years it really has not changed all that much. The studio talking heads juxtaposed with in-the-field reporters on site at various campaign headquarters constitute dynamic television since the reports are changing constantly. That’s also a reason to watch. But I can’t stop thinking that the whole set-up could use a major refreshing.
That there was little evidence of social media included in the election coverage was surprising. Following the discussion on Twitter is a half-hearted attempt to seem like networks are attempting to engage their audience. Tweets would not have to be running constantly but most interesting tweets (as interpreted by the network) could be interspersed from viewers every 10 minutes in a box on the screen. Viewers have been known to stick with a network using this kind of tactic.
I also question whether local news breaks are even required and why relevant information in the local market could not be scrolled on the side of the screen (since election results scroll on the bottom) twice an hour. People are accustomed to busy screens (see MSNBC and FOX Cable News).
Overall I think the nature of election coverage could really use a refreshing. What do you think?