Getting Graphic Results

Less expensive touch screens are migrating into local station newsrooms
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Touch-screen displays, which were pioneered by CNN and were one of the most notable tech developments of the 2008 elections, will play a bigger role this time around as networks and stations increasingly rely on them to dramatize and analyze political trends and election results.

For starters, touch screen displays, which were generally limited to network or cable news coverage in 2008 and 2010, are becoming much more affordable and more widely deployed at stations.

While an 82-inch display and software package might have cost a network $200,000 in 2008, stations can now purchase a 55-inch display and the same software package for between $50,000 and $60,000, while an 82-inch system can be had for under $100,000, says Bob Pette, COO of Perceptive Pixel.

Such systems allow anchors and reporters to offer much deeper analysis of election results and could provide stations willing to invest in these technologies with a competitive advantage. But it will also put pressure on stations to find talent that is capable of doing more than simply relaying results.

“I had an anchor tell me that they really allowed him to take a deep dive into the data in a way that turned him back into a true reporter and not just someone who was reading a Teleprompter,” Pette notes.

In the past, these screens have been mainly used to display maps and demographic data, but this time around they will also be used to display social media feeds and include tools to analyze what is happening on Twitter and Facebook, network executives note.

Even more important, the rich interactive graphics used by these screens will be migrating from onair onto the digital platforms, executives at NBC and CBS note.

Says Vivian Schiller, NBC News chief digital officer, “I can’t be specific at this stage, but you can expect us to take the tools that someone like Chuck Todd has been using to analyze the data on-air and put those in the hands of users” of tablets, smart phones and computers.

E-mail comments to gpwin@oregoncoast.com

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