TV stations are finding that new election software from Magis Media can be the differentiator for their station on election night. Ease of use, real-time mapping and a visually pleasing display all lead to better storytelling, they say.
As we get closer to the election on Nov. 3, TV stations across the country are scrambling for an advantage to make their coverage unique. And some are finding that new mapping software from Magis Media can be the differentiator for their station on election night.
“The last two weeks, it’s just blown up,” said Kevin Ferrara, VP of operations at Magis Media, describing the frenzy of TV stations signing up for the company’s election software.
In addition to WJXT, Graham Media’s independent in Jacksonville, Fla., and WREX, Quincy’s NBC affiliate in Rockford, Ill., which used the software during the primary election in March, stations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston (KHOU), Milwaukee (WTMJ), Buffalo (WKBW), Fort Myers, (WBBH), Tampa (WTSP), Sioux City (KTIV) and Raleigh (WRAL), all have exclusive agreements with Magis for their election night coverage in November.
“It really gives us a lot of flexibility in how we present stories on election night, a really great added benefit to our viewers this year.”
Josh Morgan, WREX’s station manager, said viewers “are able to get more out of watching our coverage because we have an easier time bringing them more information and better storytelling.”
Here is a Facebook Live from WREX’s Democratic primary coverage in March. Scroll in to about the 1:30 mark:
LIVE PRESIDENTIAL RESULTS: James Stratton takes a county-by-county look at who local voters chose in the heated Democratic Primary.
Posted by WREX-TV on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
What attracted Rick Gall, WRAL’s news director, to sign on with Magis for his station’s election night coverage is the software’s ability to “give you the county-by-county breakdown in a way that you can display it, you can show it to viewers, walk them through it so that it easily makes sense. It really is a tool that helps us with analysis on election night and that is why we were excited about it especially on this upcoming election night given all of the dynamics in play. I think that could be a differentiator for us on election night.”
Ferrara, who has 30 years’ experience in local television, said what the Magis software does is “takes the numbers and heat maps it and plots it in a very visual way. It’s taking county by county mapping to the station level, something new that only the networks have had before.”
“We network quality graphics,” said Morgan, “and tell stories at a visually pleasing level that we have never been able to do before.”
Morgan said the network quality information and mapping “allows viewers to interactively see how the votes came in. This is not only a storytelling tool for the day of the election, but the days before the election, and in the days following because there are stories to tell. The software allows for real-time information and real-time mapping and then it offers historical mapping to tell unique stories looking at how your local county has started. The bottom line is we are able to tell stories at a visually pleasing level that we have never been able to do before.”
One of the benefits of the Magis software is that it is customized to the existing graphic look of the stations.
“They work with us and our art director and we make some mockups and designs and we send it to them and they implement it. It is more of a partnership than just a company that is making something that we use.”
Ferrara said the software is easy to use, which makes the on-air talent comfortable as they report the results.
“You tap a button and it’s all right there,” said Wallace.
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