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Photo: NBC News

NBC News and MSNBC are doubling down on digital and remote TV coverage of this year's conventions in an effort to bring as much information to voters as possible, while acclimating to the virtual nature of this year's events.

The big picture: The remote nature of the convention presents enormous challenges, but "this forced transition for the conventions will mean the plans for the next four years might become more creative," says Chuck Todd, moderator of Meet the Press and NBC News’ Political Director.

  • "What I’m most curious about is to see how the tone of the speeches change when they don’t have the delegates in person. Whether that changes the mood of these conventions, the impact of these conventions are all things we will learn as we go."  

Details: NBC News will leverage more than a half dozen new digital tools and products to cover the conventions that it didn't have in 2016, including its new 24/7 streaming news service NBC News Now, its new Quibi show "The Report," its Snapchat and TikTok show "Stay Tuned," Apple News and new podcasts like "Into America."

  • Digital coverage will include live blog all nights of both the DNC and RNC conventions being updated 24/7 from the NBC News team, including fact checks at NBCNews.com/Decision2020.
  • NBCNews.com will continue to publish Election Confessions, where voters can share their anonymous thoughts about the presidential candidates and the state of the country. NBC News has received over 60,000 submissions this election cycle, says Catherine Kim, Executive Editor of NBC News Digital.
  • NBC News Digital will also feature Road to 270, an interactive web tool where users can design and map their own road to the presidency. Users can see the latest scenarios from Chuck Todd and Steve Kornacki.
  • NBC News NOW will stream the convention coverage for free daily. Chuck Todd will anchor a special program each night at 8 p.m. ET.

Audience spikes on digital began in March, Kim says. NBC News NOW has roughly 10 million unique viewers and 10 million hours viewed each month.

  • The company has also invested more on new social channels. It has more than 800,000 followers on TikTok across both its' "Stay Tuned" account and its main NBC News account.
  • Asked how NBC news plans to measure the success of many of these new digital channels, Kim says that on video across platforms, "Were measuring success by time spent, tracking hours spent watching NBC News Now, Today All Day, etc."

TV coverage will feature anchors covering the conventions remotely for NBC News and MSNBC, while other reporters and correspondents will contribute to television and digital live streaming coverage remotely and on the trail.

  • NBC News will air a nightly Special Report from 10 to 11 p.m. ET each day of the DNC and RNC conventions with Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie anchoring from NBC News' Headquarters in New York with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell from NBC News’ Washington Bureau. 
  • MSNBC will deliver live, prime-time coverage of each convention from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET each night of the conventions. Rachel Maddow with Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace will anchor a special Decision 2020 convention program at 9 p.m., joined by Brian Williams who continues coverage at 11 ET, and Ari Melber at 1 a.m. from New York.

Between the lines: "For reporters, conventions were an opportunity to find more stories and more sources. That’s simply a loss that comes with this pandemic territory that we’ve been living with for some time," says Todd.

  • "I do believe it will become more apparent when experiencing this remotely is just how informercial-like convention speeches and videos really are," says Todd.

The bottom line: "We've never had a convention cycle where the anchor team wasn't in the middle of the action," says Rashida Jones, senior VP of NBC News and MSNBC.

  • "But I don't think we're compromising at all in terms of the quality of expertise ... It will allow us to lean on the journalism more than the bells and whistles of event itself."

Editor’s note: NBC is an investor in Axios. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

When the news is what the news did

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When was Joe Biden elected president? The answer is: When the media declared him president.

Why it matters: Most of the time, when the media reports a major news story, some event in the world happened that is worth reporting. In this case, however, the important event was simply the fact that the media is reporting the story.

Introducing "Hard Truths"

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Logo: Miranda Leung/Axios. Photos: Bettmann, Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images

Hard Truths is an Axios series exploring the impact of race in America.

Why it matters: If you’re white or rich, it’s easy to believe that racism is something that ended years ago. But the hard truth is: That’s not supported by facts.

  • Our society, institutions and culture are still filled with barriers that shut out people because of the color of their skin, the origins of where they were born and other factors they can’t control.
  • That didn’t just happen a long time ago. It’s happening right now.

Driving the news: We recognize most newsrooms, including ours, pay too much attention to news of the day, and less time examining what's below the surface.

  • We were challenged on this by an Axios employee, who asked during the nationwide protests this summer: "Why does the news media spend all its time focusing just on events like this and then move on, instead of explaining systemic racism?"

Between the lines: We know that some of you will be skeptical.

  • We promise that Hard Truths — like all Axios coverage — will be grounded in facts, clinical and clear-eyed, so you get the full picture.

What’s next: Each month, we'll examine a fresh topic. Our project begins on Saturday with voting. In coming months, we’ll explore education, housing, technology, sports, health care and more. You’ll find this coverage:

  • In special Saturday bonus editions of Axios AM.
  • On Axios.com in a new "Deep Dive" format.
  • On a special edition of our "Axios Today" podcast that will accompany each new topic.
  • On "Axios on HBO."

The bottom line: Our goal is to equip you with facts showing the full picture of race in America — a topic long overdue for this nation and its leaders to confront.

Go deeper: Our first installment, on race and voting in America.

Journalism enters dangerous new era

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Capitol attack on Jan. 6 resulted in at least nine physical assaults against journalists and at least five arrests, per the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker's top editor.

Why it matters: President Trump's harsh rhetoric towards the press has empowered leaders abroad and locally in the U.S. to continue to attack press that they don't like.