He has a handful of experts whose reportage on the conclave he closely follows: John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter; Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church;" Robert Mickens, a writer for the Catholic news weekly The Tablet; John Thavis, whose book "Vatican Diaries" came out last month; and Sandro Magister, a television producer and blogger.
Allen warned readers in the National Catholic Reporter about the chance for initial confusion since smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel often seems gray at first. That was a big complaint among TV anchors at the last conclave.
"Generally, it takes a few minutes to sort out what's actually happened," Allen wrote.
NBC News will let people judge for themselves online. It is setting up a "smoke cam" of live streaming video of the Sistine Chapel chimney.
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter (at)dbauder.
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