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Networks, Cable News Channels Go Live as New Pope Is Chosen

Pope White Smoke - H 2013
Getty Images
White smoke rises from the Sistine Chapel, announcing the election of a new pope.

On Wednesday, a new pontiff was elected to succeed the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

When white smoke plumed from within the Sistine Chapel early Wednesday afternoon, announcing the election of a new pope, TV news outlet leapt into action.

Cable news channels CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel broke into programming to cover the story, with broadcast networks also cutting in.

Fox broke in with the Fox News Channel feed, ABC went to Diane Sawyer reporting from the Vatican, and NBC's Brian Williams led coverage with Lester Holt and Anne Thompson reporting on location. CBS was the first broadcast network to break into regular programming at 2:06 p.m. ET with anchors Scott Pelley and Norah O'Donnell and correspondent Allen Pizzey on the ground in Rome for the historic event.

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At about 3:15 p.m. ET, Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio was announced as the new pontiff. He will be known as Pope Francis I.

On Tuesday, 115 cardinals gathered in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to select the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned at the end of February. More than 5,000 journalists had descended on the Eternal City to capture any news the moment it happens.