So, the first tweeted presidential debate. This week the AP reported that Current TV will let its audience have their say by publishing their live Twitter comments on screen; now the news is doing the rounds on the blogs.
During the debates, the station will broadcast Twitter messages (or tweets) from viewers as John McCain and Barack Obama go head to head.
It’s all certainly a lot further on than when the first ever debate went out on television: on September 1960 26, when 70 million US viewers watched senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts word-battle vice president Richard Nixon.
Current TV, which is extremely pro viewer interaction, was actually co-founded by Al Gore, though the channel says ‘Hack the Debate’, as it has become known, was not his idea.
An article over at the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) says, of the Nixon-Kennedy debate, “Perhaps as no other single event, the Great Debates forced us to ponder the role of television in democratic life.”
So, does Twittering and instantaneous (as much as it can be) viewer feedback have anything like the same significance? What’s the role of the internet here in democratic life?
Also, comments will be filtered to fit in with broadcast standards: does this change its impact at all?