When Barack Obama puts his hand today on the velvet cover of Abraham Lincoln's Bible to take the solemn oath of office, never before in the history of the presidency will so many people bear witness.
As Harry Truman was sworn in on a brisk morning 60 years ago, television cameras were there, allowing, for the first time, people across the nation and in other countries to watch grainy, black-and-white footage.
In 1997, at Bill Clinton's inauguration, live video streamed over the Internet - though few people had access to it. Today, with interest in Obama at an all-but-unprecedented fever pitch and with more people than ever having the ability to tune into the ceremony live from their office computers or from their iPhones as they run errands or from dozens of TV and radio outlets, viewership will be at an all-time high.
People who want to can immerse themselves in inaugural news, commentary, video and whiz-bang technological gadgetry from dawn to dusk. Finding coverage of a wide variety won't be a problem. Choosing which to tune to might. Just be flexible with the start times. The day's events will be historic, not necessarily prompt.
The Early Show will broadcast live from Washington and then Katie Couric will anchor coverage which will run live from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Couric will anchor a one-hour special, Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama. The show will trace Obama's road to the presidency and consider his role as the country's first black president.
7 a.m.: Live coverage begins with a three-hour Good Morning America broadcast from the Library of Congress.
10 a.m.: Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor coverage of Obama's swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. Reporters will be stationed to get reaction across the country and the world - including in Kenya, Obama's ancestral home.
8 p.m.: The network will be live for the first event of inauguration evening, the president's Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, to showcase the Obamas' first dance of the night, the president's initial speech of the evening, and performances and appearances by musicians and celebrities.
10 p.m.: Gibson, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos will anchor A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama. This program will cut live to inaugural balls and track the president and first lady as they celebrate in Washington.
The network's coverage opens this morning with Today broadcasting live from Washington, with each of the four anchors taking in a different D.C. vantage point. Brian Williams will anchor the reports beginning at 10:30 a.m. A live one-hour special at 10 p.m. will feature the inaugural galas.
11 a.m.: The Newshour's Jim Lehrer will anchor live coverage of the inauguration, including Obama's arrival at the White House, the church service and the inaugural address, running until 2 p.m. Joining Lehrer will be a panel of political analysts and historians, including Mark Shields, David Brooks, University of New Hampshire professor Ellen Fitzpatrick, Brandeis University professor Peniel Joseph and National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser.
In addition, the Online Newshour (pbs.org/newshour) will feature live, streaming video of the Newshour's coverage, plus maps, historical timelines and forums where questions can be submitted to the Newshour panel. There will also be photo and text updates via Twitter and Flickr.
7:30 p.m.: MPT, Channels 22 and 67, will air a special edition of Direct Connection, with analysis of the day's events from Herbert Smith, professor of political science at McDaniel College, and Richard Vatz, professor of rhetoric at Towson University. There will also be live reports from one of the inaugural balls in Washington.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: The channel will broadcast live from the National Mall as Obama is sworn in. Coverage will continue from the mall into primetime, with Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show.
5 a.m.: Live coverage begins with an edition of American Morning broadcast live from Capitol Hill. At 10 a.m., the network's headquarters moves to the Newseum with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper. Correspondent John King will use CNN's "magic wall" technology from inside the Newseum to demonstrate how traffic and crowds are building in Washington.
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.: The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer will feature live coverage of the parade.
7 p.m. to midnight: Campbell Brown and Cooper will anchor live coverage of 10 inaugural balls.
Midnight to 1 a.m.: Larry King will conclude the network's coverage with an inauguration edition of his show.
Fox News Channel:
6 a.m.: Live coverage begins with Fox & Friends; at 8:30 a.m., Bret Baier and Shepard Smith will begin broadcasting from the Newseum.
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Chris Wallace will anchor from the parade route, while a panel of analysts offers commentary on the day's events.
9 p.m.: Live coverage of the balls begins.
For the first time ever, the children's channel will feature vignettes of Obama's taking the oath of office beginning at 8 p.m. The channel will also spotlight the parade, Obama's arrival at the White House and the inaugural address.
11 a.m.: BET is pulling out every available stop for this inauguration - five hours of live coverage, interspersed with news briefs, taped segments and reflections from celebrities and other personalities. The coverage will be anchored by Rene Syler, Hill Harper and Jeff Johnson.
4 p.m.: A rebroadcast of Obama's election-night victory speech.
4:30 p.m.: BET News: Journey to the White House.
5 p.m.: BET News: The First Black President.
6 p.m.: BET's music-video showcase, 106 & Park, will include clips sent by viewers riffing on the theme "Yes I Will."
8 p.m.: The hour-long Yes We Will! Inaugural Celebration, with host Nick Cannon, will include performances by Jazmine Sullivan, Wyclef Jean and others.
9 p.m.: BET News: The Obama Effect.
9:30 p.m.: BET News: King to Obama.
Visitors to the network's Web site, BET.com, will be asked to share stories about their own trips to today's inaugural (via text, pictures or video), as well as their own encounters with Obama during the campaign and how they have marked the historic events with their children.
Noon-1 p.m.: Live coverage of the inauguration.
10 p.m.-11:30 p.m. (rebroadcast 11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.): MTV's Be the Change: Live from the Inaugural will showcase young people from all over the world, taking on projects aimed at improving their communities. Performances from the Youth Inaugural Ball taking place at the Hilton Washington, will be shown live - as will comments from Obama, who is scheduled to stop by the ball with his family.
Just in case you haven't bought enough presidential tchotchkes before today - hard to imagine, since about a gazillion commemorative coins already have been offered for sale -- QVC will be airing live from Washington tonight, with host Leah Williams donning a ball gown for the occasion.
The network is planning two shows hawking Obama commemoratives, at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Among the items for sale: a gold-plated card and colorized coin set ($21.75) and a framed Barack Obama oil painting by artist Blend Cota, portraying the new president "as he looks forward into a future filled with promise for the American people" ($50).
This is the fourth inauguration to include a sales pitch from QVC, although it marks only the second time the network has come to Washington. The other was the last time a Democrat took center stage, in 1997.
Fox Business Network:
7 a.m.: The financial news channel begins live coverage of the inauguration. Money for Breakfast and Opening Bell broadcast from the Mall. Neil Cavuto will host his show, Cavuto, and broadcast throughout the day from a parade-route overlook.
ABC News Now's live coverage, to be live-streamed on ABCNEWS.com, will be co-anchored by Sam Donaldson beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until 11 p.m. From 11:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m., ABCNEWS.com will offer live streaming coverage of Obama's oath of office and inaugural address embedded on the home page.
The daily World News Webcast will stream an inaugural edition with the day's highlights. The Webcast is available online at abcnews.go.com/wn, as a video podcast on iTunes or RSS readers, on mobile phones and via ABC News Now.
ABCNEWS.com will highlight stories from ABC News and video of past presidential speeches and inaugurations, slide shows of inaugural balls and a timeline of Inauguration Day events.
MSNBC.com will feature live streaming video of the inauguration that it can embed on its own blogs or Web sites.
Additionally, there will be interactive features on Obama's transition team, slide shows of Obama's journey to the White House, outgoing President George W. Bush's legacy and past inaugurations.
Readers can share their own images and stories through FirstPerson, a citizen journalism tool. The site will feature Photosynth, a new tool for creating and sharing event photos.
The network's Web site will debut a comprehensive inauguration feature detailing the lead-up to inauguration, Obama's history and commentary about the issues that lie ahead of him.
Couric's reports will be featured on a live Webcast starting at 10 p.m., following her prime-time TV special. The Webcast will include interviews, analysis and live response to viewer questions submitted online before and during the program.
Inauguration clips will be available though cell phone carriers including Verizon, AT&T; and Sprint.
CNN.com will showcase live coverage of the inauguration throughout the day with up to four live video streams available at all times.
People will be able to rate Obama's speech with an "Inaugural Address Report Card" and imagine what front-row seats along the parade route are like with "Your View of History," a map of the parade designed with Google technology. Viewers will be able to follow the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, through still images and video, each image posted in its exact location in order to give people a street-level view.
People can submit their own photos and video through iReport.com - whether they're in Washington, or at their own home-viewing parties.
Live Webcasts throughout the day, including the swearing-in ceremony and the parade.
People can upload pictures to U-Report@foxnews.com that could be shown on TV.
Facebook has partnered with CNN.com so that people can not just watch the day's event's online, but talk about them with their friends and blast "status updates" on what they're thinking while they take it in. People watching live video on CNN.com will be able to update their Facebook status from CNN's page and read updates from other Facebook members.
Fox News Channel's Facebook page will include video clips from Obama's speech, a "wall" forum for people to discuss the day's events and photo albums with pictures taken by Fox reporters on the scene.
The Web portal wants to be one-stop shopping for online inauguration goodies, with live streaming video of the ceremony, speeches and galas, stories from national news gatherers, discussions on the Obama family's fashion choices, photo slide show and links to blogs and commentary. A highlighted feature is "Barack Obama's official Flickr Photostream" where Obama staff members will be uploading behind-the-scenes images.
Visitors to this Web site will be able to observe the day's activities via a series of cameras placed by the Associated Press throughout Washington.
Along with news coverage from D.C. and Baltimore, the newspaper staff will be Twittering at twitter.com/baltimoresun. Editorial writer Glenn McNatt will be twittering the speech at twitter.com/baltsunlive. Also, there will be video from around Baltimore and Washington as well as coverage on a variety of blogs.
The provider of live traffic video is teaming with Metro Traffic to offer free live video from Metro Traffic's camera atop the Willard Hotel. The camera vantage point offers sweeping views of Pennsylvania Avenue and the U.S. Capitol.
SIRIUS XM :
The satellite radio company will be offering Obama-related content on 17 channels. There will be live coverage of the day on P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), but also channels considering events from various political and social points of view, including The Power, a show with an African-American perspective.
ABC News :
The network will provide live anchored coverage of the swearing-in and also broadcast a one-hour highlight show at 7:06 p.m.
The network will provide live coverage from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Couric's prime-time show sill be simulcast at 9 p.m.
National Public Radio, airing locally on WYPR-FM (88.1), will broadcast from Washington for six hours beginning at 10 a.m., with dozens of reporters scattered throughout the city. Reports will be coming in from throughout the world as well, including contributions from Baghdad bureau chief Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, foreign correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Kabul, Afghanistan, and East Africa correspondent Gwen Thompkins at a viewing party in Kenya.
2 p.m.: Listeners will be able to share their thoughts on the day's events, with Talk of the Nation's Neal Conan leading the discussion.
7 p.m.: Linda Wertheimer will host an hour-long look back at the inaugural events.
Baltimore's highest-rated news-talk station will have Scott Wykoff reporting hourly from Washington beginning at 5 a.m. He'll later be joined by Robert Long, who will be reporting from the viewing area and from the parade route
11:30 a.m.: Ron Smith and Clarence Mitchell IV will host an hour-long program, to include the swearing-in ceremony and Obama's inaugural address. Reports from Washington will continue throughout the day.
Andrew Ratner is off. His "On Blogging" column will return next week.