Broadcasters prepare for back-to-back events

As far as the TV news networks are concerned, the center of the universe will be located in Denver during the last week of August. It then shifts the first week of September to Minneapolis-St.Paul. Indeed, judging from the collective heavy presence planned for both cities, it’s understandable to think the respective political conventions will be everything but corporate headquarters for the news nets.

And with good reason. “The conventions are really the kickoff for what’s going to be a very intense season of political coverage,” says Rick Kaplan, exec producer of CBS’ “Evening News.” Despite competing touts like “The Best Political Team on Television” (CNN) and “America’s Election Headquarters” (Fox), every news net will be out in force, vying for bragging rights to owning the most comprehensive coverage.

ABC

Like its broadcast competitors, ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” will air live from both cities in its normal time slot. Then Monday through Thursday of each week, Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor live coverage in the 10-11 p.m. slot. Also originating out of Denver and St. Paul will be “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “This Week.”

Reporters will include Jake Tapper, John Berman, David Wright, Ron Claiborne, Kate Snow, Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden. Joining them will be veterans Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson and John Donvan, while George Will, Donna Brazile and Matthew Dowd contribute political analysis. Alphabet also plans live streaming video over its Web site and “extensive coverage” on ABC News Radio.

CBS

Katie Couric will anchor “Evening News” live from both cities at its usual time. She will then anchor, with Bob Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield, an hour of live coverage (same timeslot as ABC’s) Monday through Thursday nights of both weeks. In a first for CBS, Couric will host an approximately 30 minute live Webcast for the net following primetime coverage. In addition, the Eye will offer streaming video coverage of all events and an on-line and on-demand video archive of all convention speeches.

Also originating out of Denver and St. Paul those two weeks will be “The Early Show” (Harry Smith hosting in Denver, Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul) and “Face the Nation.”

Analysts will include Dan Bartlett and Joe Trippi. . CBS Radio will have at least a half-dozen correspondents at both conventions, and CBSNews.com will, like it’s Alphabet rival, be providing live updates and video.

CNN

Like its cable competitors, CNN plans long hours of coverage, starting with updates from “American Morning” at 6:00 a.m. Other daytime programming, such as “CNN Newsroom,” will carry updates, but continuous live, onsite coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. with “The Situation Room” and extends into a special midnight segment of “Larry King Live.”

Lead anchors will be Wolf Blitzer, Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper at both conventions. Correspondents will include Dana Bash, Candy Crowley, Joe Johns, Suzanne Malveaux, Bill Schneider and Jessica Yellin.

Analysts include Gloria Borger and Roland Martin, who will be joined at times by CNN newcomers David Brody, Alex Castellanos, Dana Milbank, Hilary Rosen and Tara Wall.

Fox News Channel

Fox is calling its convention coverage “The Fox Experience,” which will “provide comprehensive coverage of the events across several Fox News platforms — including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox News Radio, FoxNews.com and Fox News Mobile,” the cabler said.

The experience, featuring several Fox programs airing live from both conventions, will begin at 6 a.m., with “Fox & Friends.” Live, onsite coverage continues until 11 a.m., then resumes at 3 p.m. and continues through 1 a.m. Expect to see Carl Cameron, Major Garrett, Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith, Neil Cavuto, Brit Hume, Greta Van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Allan Colmes reporting and/or commenting. Cavuto will also air his Fox Business Network program, “Cavuto,” from both conventions.

Analysts include former GOP prexy contender Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove, Howard Wolfson and Bob Beckel, among others.

NBC/MSNBC

Brian Williams will anchor “Nightly News” at its usual time live from both conventions during the respective four nights of each week. He will also lead the live, 10-11 p.m. coverage on each night.

MSNBC’s primetime coverage will be led by Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.

Former “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, in addition to hosting “Meet the Press” live from both conventions, will alternate between NBC and MSNBC for reporting and commentary. The Peacock’s biggest tout is for Luke Russert, son of the late Tim Russert, who moderated “MTP.” Young Russert will be covering “youth issues” for NBC at both conventions, the net said.

“Today” will be split-broadcast, with Matt Lauer in Denver and Meredith Vieira in New York; for St. Paul, Lauer will be in New York and Vieira at the convention.

Reporters include Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Ron Allen, Lee Cowan, Kelly O’Donnell, Savannah Guthrie, Mike Taibbi and Tom Costello. Along with Brokaw, NBC News political director Chuck Todd will provide analysis.

MSNBC is promising 20 hours of live coverage per day, running from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. NBC radio and Telemundo will also be present.

PBS

The pubcaster is promising “the only complete primetime broadcast television coverage of both conventions,” according to an announcement. Live, onsite coverage — slated for 8 to 11 p.m. each of the four days at each convention – will be anchored by “News Hour” host Jim Lehrer. Joining him will be correspondents Judy Woodruff, Margaret Warner, Gwen Ifill and Ray Suarez (who will also anchor PBS’ online coverage).

Analysts include longtime “News Hour” commentators David Brooks and Mark Shields along with Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph.

Of course the news Webs are just a fraction of the journalistic presence at the conventions, with many new Web entries in the 2008 election cycle looking at the events as a way to establish a significant profile. Washington Post-Newsweek Interactive, for instance, will offer extensive coverage via Webcasts and other online offerings. And unconventional outlets like “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central will provide coverage. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will be on the road to tape entire shows at both conventions.

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