During Election Coverage

JUST ABOUT TO GET UNDERWAY

In just a few minutes, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan will face off for a 90-minute televised debate. Both are hoping to gain ground for their running mates as election day draws closer.

The 9 p.m. debate from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky will be moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News.

The stakes are high for tonight’s debate after last weeks face-off between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, boosted poll numbers for Romney, and drew criticism for President Obama.

Biden is a veteran of the U.S. Senate and once chaired the Senate foreign relations and judiciary committees. Ryan is a 14 year U.S. representative from Wisconsin who has been at odds with Obama’s proposals.

The debate gets underway shortly. It will be seen and watched in various formats this evening. From YouTube, to live-streaming, to live chat-rooms, to Twitter and Facebook-social media is playing a huge role in this election. Tonight, I will join others who are live blogging the event, only I will be live blogging the bloggers, and others who are using social media to watch and join in the debate. I’ll be focusing on journalists and how they use social media to cover the event. It is of particular interest to me since my background is in journalism. I spent 15 years in broadcast news; reporting and anchoring. I took part in the covering of live events, and the way in which I covered them over the years has changed. Since the inception of Facebook and Twitter, journalists have a whole new way of distributing news. I am interested to see how they do it tonight. Join me at 9 p.m.

WATCH REPLAY OF LIVE BLOG:

http://heathergerber.coverpage.coveritlive.com

THE PREGAME SHOW

I could have easily began my live blog covering the social side of the debate a half hour before it began. When I launched all my Facebook pages and Tweet Deck, the debate was already underway in a sense. News organizations were tweeting about how the two candidates prepared for the debate. Others tweeted about where Joe Biden and Paul Ryan stand on certain issues. It was really what you would expect to see during a pregame show at a football game. The Twitter community was given a bit of a background on each candidate and there were some “fun facts” being offered.


Several media outlets were providing a behind the scenes look, as they covered the debate. Some on Twitter,

Others were setting the scene on Facebook.

This, however, would be the last we would hear from Shepard Smith of Fox News. At least, not until after the debate. Shepard Smith had an excuse. He was anchoring the pre and post coverage of the debate! However, I was really surprised other journalists didn’t take to Facebook. I looked and looked and just couldn’t seem to find anyone who made even a mention of the debate. I thought we would see some general posts, at the very least, marking the beginning and the end. Fox43, out of Harrisburg, PA (my old station) did post to its main Facebook page, thanks to its anchor Amy Lutz.

The post simply read, “Who’s watching the VP debate? What are your thoughts?” It generated 200 comments. Imagine how much more interaction they could have had if they continued posting throughout the debate, and at the end.

TWEETS, TWEETS AND MORE TWEETS…

BENEFITING EVERYONE

Twitter was really where I saw all the action. It was really intriguing to see how many news organizations used social media to their own benefit; From announcing a live-stream of the event, to asking viewers to tune into their network after the debate for an analysis. Many networks sent polls out to their twitter followers asking how the moderator was doing, who answered the question best and so on. I wasn’t watching all the networks, but I’m certain the feedback was used in some way. Several networks also had focus groups analyzing each and every answer and as soon as the results were in, they were tweeted out to the followers.

WHERE WERE THE REPORTERS?

I was very surprised we didn’t hear from more actual reporters. I noted, only because it was on my home television, that Fox’s Megyn Kelly told viewers just prior to the debate, to follow her on twitter. I quickly followed her and she posted twice. It seemed as if the web producers or social media producers for the major networks were the ones really getting in on the tweets. Very few journalists were using their twitter to provide play-by-plays or feedback. From experience, I know how difficult it is covering an event while trying to keep up with twitter, Facebook and the facts–so, perhaps that’s why we didn’t hear from a lot of journalists.
STAND OUT STATEMENTS

It was interesting also to watch as the different journalists and social media producers analyzed portions of the debate. ABC News tweeted, “Wow, laughing Joe steals the show.” Rick Sanchez tweeted, “Biden’s laughing is coming off as rude and dismissive.” I expected to see a lot of tweets restating what the two candidates said, and I certainly did. It was interesting to see which statements proved to stand out.

FACT-CHECKING

Another great way the media utilized social media during this debate was to immediately provide fact-checks to viewers, who perhaps, were sitting with their phone or tablet in hand. The moment a candidate said something that was questionable, several news outlets put their fact-finders to work, and quickly posted the facts via Twitter.

KEEPING TABS

Just so followers and viewers knew how well social media was playing into the vice presidential debate, several networks posted some statistics from time to time.

A WHOLE NEW WAY OF VIEWING AND REPORTING THE DEBATE

It was interesting watching a debate from this perspective. I can now understand why Twitter did so well that evening in regards to posts and gained accounts. Twitter administrators posted on their blog that 3.5 million people used Twitter during the debate. Those who sat back in their seat, with a smartphone in hand, to watch a debate between the two men hoping to be the Vice President of our country, had every answer at their fingertips. If they were wondering if a fact was correct–within seconds they had an answer. If they were wondering where a candidate stood on a certain issue–they had to look no further than Twitter. If there was something really compelling or funny said during the debate, they could watch it again, moments later. Social media, without a doubt, provides a new tool for consumers and the media. When it’s used well, the benefits and options are seemingly endless.

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

WATCH THE DEBATE AGAIN

WHY LIVE BLOG THE SOCIAL SIDE OF THE DEBATE?
This live blog was part of an assignment in my Digital Storytelling graduate class at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. I chose to cover the social side of the vice presidential debate because I thought it would be interesting to watch over the entire process. It certainly would have been easier to simply blog about the vice presidential debate itself. I definitely found some challenges in blogging the social side of the debate. Namely, I couldn’t find a lot of journalists who were keeping up with the debate, especially on Facebook. It turned out, major networks and even local newsrooms turned to a web producer to cover the debate. I only heard from a handful of journalists.

There was definitely some “dead air” as one would say while live blogging this event. At times, Tweet Deck (which I ended up really focusing on since it was the most active) sat still. There was no movement at all. Then, in a second, dozens of tweets posted and the whole page shifted. I found myself scrambling to try to scroll down to find out what everyone was tweeting. At times, I would just begin typing something I saw, and it would disappear. A bit frustrating for sure, but I’m glad I chose this topic for this assignment.

I definitely gained some insight as to how the media is using social media to its benefit, and likewise, how the consumer is using social media to its benefit. It was really interesting to watch as new hashtag categories developed. You were able to determine what was going to go viral, and when. Social media is really a great asset to journalism when used ethically, responsibly and correctly.

MULTI-MEDIA USED TO TELL THE STORY

This is the first time I’ve live blogged an actual event. I’ve used cover-it-live before, but only for a live chat. I would have liked to use hyperlinks as I posted to my blog so that my audience could see what I was seeing. However, I wasn’t able to find a way to hyperlink during or after the blog. I also snapped dozens of screenshots to use within the blog and, again, I couldn’t figure out how to post them within the blog. What I’ve posted surrounding the live blog link are the many pictures and hyperlinks that I would have liked to use within the live blog. Hopefully, it’s as effective, and hopefully, I can figure out how to post everything in the future.

Within this post, I used hyperlinks to give my readers more background on a person or a term I used. I also provided a graphic from twitter’s blog which illustrates just how many people went to twitter for their coverage of the debate. I tried to utilize the screenshots to help paint a picture of what I was seeing as the event was unfolding. Hopefully this gives my reader a better understanding of what was going on in the world of social media during the debate.

I also posted a link to read the complete transcript of the event and a link to view the debate again, in case anyone didn’t see it yet. Finally, I thought it would be interesting to find out how my readers took in the debate, so I created a Poll at the end of the post for them to participate.

BLOGGING THE BLOG

I didn’t mention much about the other live blogs in my live blog. If I could have done anything differently, I would have tried to include some information about those blogs. I found it extremely difficult to shuffle around all the different social media websites to provide sufficient information for my live blog. Another reason I didn’t include too much about live blogs is because it appeared they were simply doing play-by-plays of the debate.

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