In a bid to set their US election-night coverage apart from dozens of rival television outlets and Web sites, the TV networks this week turned to software-driven graphics and other digital displays to give their viewers better insight into who voted, and how.
Every half-hour Tuesday night, CBS News turned to chief White House correspondent John Roberts, who presented viewers with detailed maps of voter turnout based on demographic data such as race, income, and education from his post at the network’s Election Data Center. As state-by-state results poured in, CBS filtered its exit-poll data through GIS software to give viewers three-dimensional renderings of voting patterns. The network also presented viewers with color-coded digital maps that showed the various methods–punch-card machines, paper ballots, and electronic touch screens–that Americans used to vote.
CBS News, a division of Viacom Inc., had in past contests showed what voters did, but the goal this election night was to show where they did it and why, says Dan Dubno, a CBS News producer and coordinator of the network’s special events unit, who’s known on the air as “Digital Dan” for his technical savvy. “We had technology that in three dimensions could display on a county level voting information and demographic data,” he says. “The fusion of data helped us communicate complicated ideas in fairly simple ways.”