TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.


Marianne Paskowski

Election Night Media Habits Changed Forever

November 5, 2008 11:35 AM

There’s change in the air, and I’m not just referring to Sen. Barack Obama winning the race to become the nation’s 44th president. His victory was sweeping, and voters were riveted to their TV sets all night as we watched history unfold as our nation elected a black man as president.

Sen. Barack Obama

But were viewers really riveted? The answer is yes and no. They just weren’t watching TV, they were multitasking via other modes of communication that have changed our TV viewing habits forever.

While channel-surfing, I’ll bet, you also were in the e-mail batting cage, hearing from pals in other states to learn what they were seeing during their local newsbreaks, all while cradling phones as friends and neighbors called.

As we surfed the TV set with remotes at hand, our mouses were in overdrive, too, as we surfed the Internet, exchanging e-mails with friends across the nation who advised “Switch to NBC” or “Check out Fox now.”

It was probably a great night to be a TV viewer in Chicago, as the Windy City prepared for an Obama victory in Grant Park. My nephew there kept me up-to-the-minute with his descriptions of other jubilant preparations under way at local churches on the South Side, coverage that I couldn’t see here.

So today I admit I have a severe sensory overload hangover. And I bet you do, too.

Anyone know of a cure?


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Comments (26)


Oh, the cure is coming. The Fairness Doctrine will make certain you never experience such diversity of coverage ever again.

Marianne Paskowski:


Oh come on, with everything else going on, do you really think Obama is even thinking about that? I read everything, he inherited such a larger mess, and I hope he has it all prioritized.

Meanwhile, market down almost 500 points today as the recession worsens. Jobs numbers due on Friday, do not unfasten your seat belt,
Loved your comment, tho, m

David Cohen:

I was busy trying to steal CNN's hologram technology so I could transport myself to a pub.

Marianne Paskowski:

So David,
Did it work?

I'm glued right now to CNBC, no surprise for those who know me, and when you hear the "Fast Money" crowd dubbing Warren Buffet as a trader rather than an investor, you know things are pretty stinky.

Fundamentals out the window, this indeed is going to be a steep slop as Obama said last night to climb out of the eight-year old hole Bush dug us into.

I wonder how Nielsen measures people like you:) m


The far left in Congress, led by Pelosi, Reid, and their ilk will push for the Fairness Doctrine as a tool to limit any public opposition to their coming far left agenda.
Do you actually believe Obama will oppose them? You think he'll veto it should it come across his desk? Not a chance. Wake up.
Let's compare notes six months to a year from now. I doubt very much it will be JCL and I eating our words.

Marianne Paskowski:


Good point, but. You don't know, I don't know. And yes, let's compare notes six months from now.

I think Obama is a thoughtful team builder and will not rubber stamp anything, just to get it out of his face. At least that is my hope.

Thanks for your post, m

Jeff Mulligan:


The people who should really be squirming are not the pols or the pundits, but the Mad Av crowd. Your multitasking model, described in terms of people tuned to an extraordinary event, will likely become the rule for all TV viewing--especially among the highly desired youth demos. It's like the challenge posed by time-shifting, but only worse, because it precludes, not just delays, opportunities for viewers to eventually see spots that run. What seems to me non-sensical, should my prediction prove true, is people multitasking during sitcoms, movies, TV dramas, etc. that require attentive viewing to be enjoyed. If answering email is so important, the ability of TV to attract any kind of audience, no matter how distracted, erodes even further.

Raptor Ron:

While you and all the other Obamania fans fritter away your time online, who was asking the important questions about Obama's Muslim origins, and the likelihood that Bill Ayers will be appointed Homeland Security secretary. Can't you media commentators get it right for once? Mainstream Americans lost the election! Let the liberals move to Canada. I'm moving to Paraguay.

Raptor Ron

Marianne Paskowski:

You raise some interesting points about multitasking. I've been doing it for years, and I find my attention span totally gone.

I read everything, Biz Week, WSJ, NYT and countless other print pubs online. You name it, I do it. And all that crazy LinkedIn, social networks, etc.

But it's become a very different experience, you get the whole swath of things, articles that I would never read in print, but do browse online.And hence you feel more informed, but you're really not.

That's a problem I see for myself and the youth of the country.

I used to read two books a week. I don't do that anymore. And advertisers know that. Take Yahoo, my email provider, it bombards me with constant "upgrades" that contain more and more ads than ever.

Maybe email is a chick thing, but that's how many of us connect while we do other things.

I really do believe something has been lost with the proliferation of media options.

But here I am writing to you, but I know you, m

Marianne Paskowski:

You sure like like a right wing fritterer, your words not mine wasting just as much time online.

That we have in common. And that's it. So go kill bulls in Paraguay,and watch your words up here. You are one rude dude. m

The outcome of all the media forms and attention given them over these last two years came to a head when Obama stepped up to the microphones in Grant Park Tuesday night.

For some precious minutes eveybody stopped and listened.

All these forms of moving information are mere conduits. More of these connectors will come and that is a good thing.

We busy ourselves with "more, more, more", but when it really counts, we have moments like we were priviliaged to have experienced Tuesday night.

We are starved as a people and a nation for base level, real thought and communication coming from a leader. We got it Tuesday night and it thrilled us.

All these conduits have served us getting to this point. Now we need to put them to even better use as connections to and involvement with the Spirit and direction of our new Administration.

The onus is on each of us to participate. The apathetic days of "them" and "us" are over.

If we are to save this nation and change course, then it's ALL hands on deck...look, the Captain is pushing a mop too with an open mind to better ways for better days.

Conduits mean nothing unless what they carry has substance worthy of our attention.

If it's real, we get it. We don't have to be told something is "real". Tuesday night we got it...now we have to join arms and work with and for it.
Peter Bright

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Peter,

I'm sure this past election eve is one of these dates that everyone will remember where they were and what they were doing and who they were with that momentous turning point in history.

Obama made good use of all media forms, online, the infomercial, etc. And we benefit from all those forms of communication, as well, to unite this country.

Things don't look great today with abysmal October retail sales and horrendous unemployment figures officially coming out tomorrow.

Like you, I'm confident we can turn this mess around, m


I live in Chicago and actually regret not going to down to Grant Park now. I thought it would be way too late and chaotic so I had a few friends over to watch the returns on TV. We flipped around from MSNBC, CNN, and FOX NEWS to get different opinions on everything. But I mostly kept it on the TV station here that I work for. It was a mix of network coverage with local cut-ins with local election results, and coverage of Grant Park. However, I did not do anything online until the next day. However, I hear a lot of peole watched his speech live stream online.

Raptor: You are an idiot. You have every right to disagree on the policies of Obama and any democrat, but to say what you did is just plain dumb and ignorant.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Joe,

I heard people were actually trying to sell tickets to the Grant Park rally on eBay, but that failed because a photo idea matching the ticket was required.

Is that true? If that's so, so made the wise call. I grew up in Chicago, on the racially divided south side, and later moved to the north side where I found people more tolerant in their racial views.

Know Hyde Park well, got my first traffic ticket there driving the wrong way down a one way street as a kid trying to hang at one of the clubs!

Thanks for your bird's eye view, m


Hi Marianne,
Yes, I did hear that they were requiring photo ID's with their tickets to get in. However, lots of people went there anyway and were on the outskirts of Grant Park.
Myself, I've always been a north sider since I've moved here about 5 years ago. Parts of the south side are drastically changing, especially the South Loop. All the news around here the last few days is how much will Hyde Park now change? There has already been talks of starting a tour line that goes through Hyde Park and goes by his house.
Oh well. And yes, all those one-way streets in Chicago are a pain.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Joe,

You make me homesick, I was back for Thanksgiving. I saw my grandmother's old house, just west of where the old mayor Daley lived. Her cousin actually lived around the corner from old man Daley, you should have seen the security back then!

Today that modest middle class neighborhood is now yuppified, a good thing, like everything surrounding the loop, including where Richie, the new mayor Daley lives around McCormick Place.

So where's Obama doing the press conference in Chi tomorrow with all of the best minds in finance? Your station must be getting great ratings through all of this, I hope:) m

The Wordsmith:

Personally, I think the real game-changer in TV viewing habits is the adaptation of technology that permits real-time "interactivity."

Forget "calling in" to personalities like Suze Orman and Larry King; maybe even forget e-mail. I'm referring to platforms like Twitter, Face Book, My Space and the like that permit TV viewers to respond to what they are watching on television... as it is happening.

CNN, I believe, is a leader in adapting this type of innovation and integrating the "talk back" concept into its programming by inviting viewer feedback on any of the platforms; or by running real-time BLOGS hosted by staffers who may only be seen briefly on screen, but who nevertheless are gaining loyal followings.

The entire format of Rick Sanchez's show (CNN, 3-4 p.m. EST), for example, involves viewer participation (through Twitter, etc.). Selected comments from viewers about whatever is happening on the show -- news, interviews, provacation,etc. -- are revealed as the show progresses. Often, viewers even respond to the comments of fellow viewers' comments. Much like we do here.

This format is definitely compelling!

Marianne Paskowski:


I agree to a point. But Twitter is, for me, as inane as the message boards on AOL years ago.A sea of BS.

However, online social networks have their place. For how long, I don't know. Murdoch is struggling with FaceBook because the economic model isn't there. Look at his latest earnings, and you'll agree.

If any of these services are going to work, it requires membership fees, perhaps, steep, and not based on advertising. That model, for now, is broken.

Yikes, you can't even give scatter market TV avails away, even on cable.That's how bad it is right now.

Thanks for chiming in, always love to hear from you unlike some others, and you know who exactly I'm talking about, m

andy grossman:

Jeff et al,

Won't Madison Avenue just shift their resources from TV to the Internet? CNN could sell TV/Web packages == I'm sure they are already doing so.

And remember while people are going online, TV remains the one place to catch a mass audience at once. I don't mean a million people on CNN on Election Night -- I mean 15 million people watching.

Out of the millions of people watching CNN, how many were, like many of us, furiously searching for the latest results online? Probably not many.

I think people open generalize their own experiences to the population at large.

andy grossman:

Oh,where's the "edit" button on this blog?

In the last sentence, I meant "people OFTEN generalize their own experiences to the population at large."


As I sit and remember my fallen comrades of forty years ago I am reminded that I promised myself that I would see to it that in my lifetime we would never again get into a non-war and spill our blood in vain.

I failed in that effort. I apologize to you, the forty men I once knew and the fifty-eight thousand plus who are named on The Wall in DC.

The Lie has cost forty-four hundred of us their lives, tens of thousands more bare physical, mental and psychological damages plus many thousands of family, relatives and friends who are in mourning, or are dealing with damaged "survivors"....this Lie and those who perpetrated it, need to be exposed, charged and tried....we walked away from Vietnam and did not learn the lesson.

This time we must learn the lesson. In order to do that we have to call out those who created this non-war, deal with their misdeeds through due process, make the historical statement that this was not right and that such non-wars should never be waged again.

I am in a hopeful state-of-mind regarding the direction of our government following last week's election...it is going to require each of us to pick up a mop, for the insidious mess we find ourselves nearly drowning in, will take considerable effort and time to eradicate.

Peter Bright
Sgt. US Army
9TH Infantry Division
Vietnam 1968-69

Marianne Paskowski:


So how did you watch the election in Barnstable, England? m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Vic,
Get real, DTV is nothing compared to the mess he inherited. m

Tongue planted firmly in cheek with that headline, so true.

But when 10 million people start shrieking into their phones on Feb. 18th, screaming "I WANT MY TV BACK!" the issue will get a lot of attention... I think they'll delay the analog shut-off... not a good economic time to do anything that will shrink the audience...

TV, after all, IS the opiate of the masses...

Marianne Paskowski:


I'm not dismissing your comments here, totally agree that some people will have trouble with the DTV transition.

But let's look at the world, the government bailing out GM and every bank and now company on the planet. Like you suggest, I hope the whole DTV transition is delayed.

President elect Obama has more pressing matters.Maybe he should say, later, gater, on the DTV front. And not have this mess in his face.

Thanks for addressing this other issue that should be put on the back burner, m

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