Setting Coverage Apart at Crowded Conventions

News nets head south in search of own slice of political stories

Romney may have already announced his vice-presidential pick in Paul Ryan, but
TV news producers are betting on plenty of other stories coming out of the
Republican National Convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla., and Democratic
National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Sept. 4-6.

every news network planning a presence and dozens of anchors heading south,
viewers (many of whom will be tuning into the presidential race for the first
time, producers say) will have no shortage of options. While networks are
keeping specific details close to the vest, we asked several what will
distinguish their coverage in 2012:

News will leverage its partnerships with Yahoo and Univision through 30 hours
of anchored live-stream coverage on ABC News Digital and Yahoo platforms and
tapping contributions from Univision anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena
Salinas on the Latino vote. "I'm confident we will reach millions more people
in ways other than television," says Marc Burstein, senior executive producer
of ABC News special events.

News will bring the same sensibility to its convention coverage as it does to
its other newscasts. "We intend on being a very serious broadcast that has
value added to it," says Susan Zirinsky, who will executive-produce the
coverage alongside Al Ortiz, EP of special events. Scott Pelley will anchor the
on-air coverage as well as nightly Webcasts before and after the broadcast.

News will draw on the networks and platforms of the NBCUniversal family, like
Hispanic-targeted Telemundo, the business perspective of CNBC and African
American site theGrio, giving NBC's coverage a breadth from "journalists whose
focus are those things," says senior VP of NBC News special Mark Lukasiewicz.

will have all hands on deck, sending 19 on-airs to one or both of the
conventions, which will be covered in every hour of the network's schedule.
This year it will turn its CNN 
Gril into a broadcast facility; programs will originate from there when
nothing is happening in the convention halls. "It will in many ways be an after-party
program to talk about the day's proceedings," says Sam Feist, CNN Washington
bureau chief and senior VP.

will treat the conventions as a national event, sending a group of its anchors
to the host cities and broadcasting a split primetime show from the sports
studio at 30 Rock in New York to take advantage of the better technology it
offers. In addition to Tampa and Charlotte, the net will focus coverage on the
key states for the general election like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and
Wisconsin. "We're going to be flexible," says MSNBC president Phil Griffin. If
we need to send somebody to Wisconsin, we'll be there. This is a national

TV, who won't be sending any of its primetime hosts to the conventions, will
instead look to distinguish its coverage by tapping its user-generated roots
and going "deeper into a social media experience than anybody has done on
television yet," says Current TV president David Bohrman.

News had not announced its convention coverage plans as of press time and did
not respond to an interview request.