After Pope Benedict resigned unexpectedly last month, media coverage has been feverish as the Vatican deliberated to pick a replacement.
The pomp and circumstance in recent days featured a chimney on the Sistine Chapel where smoke went from black to white at 2:06 p.m. EST today, indicating the news was forthcoming that a new pope had been selected.
On the cable networks, there was some confusion when the smoke went gray, then white. Coverage continued nonstop until 3:12 p.m. when the new Pope was named: Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Argentina, an unexpected choice and first pope from the Americas representing an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics. The three major cable networks all covered it live and the broadcast networks broke into regular programming soon after (At 3:53 p.m., ABC has gone back to a regular episode of "Katie." CBS and NBC returned to regular programming at 4 p.m. as well.)
ABC's "World News" with Diane Sawyer and the "CBS Evening News" with Scott Pelley both send their anchors to Vatican City for the conclave.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta provided commentary during ABC News' coverage this afternoon with Sawyer about the new pope.
"He speaks in a common way, in a way that connects with people," he said on air. "I've heard that he's a saint, that he is so committed to the service of the poor, to living simply."
Fox News Channel sent its top anchor Shepard Smith. CNN has Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo on sight. Chris Jansing leads MSNBC's coverage.
Not that many people nowadays needs TV to track this type of news. Major news sites sent out news alerts the moment it happened, which landed in millions of smartphones. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students sent out a text from its website www.popealarm,com when the news broke.