CNN Incorporates Social Media Into GOP Debate Coverage

CNN will host its first New Hampshire Republican Presidential debate Monday at 8 p.m., and social media will be woven throughout its coverage of the event.

The debate will take place at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., moderated by CNN anchor and chief national correspondent John King, with questions from WMUR-TV’s Jean Mackin, Josh McElveen, and Jennifer Vaughn, and the New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStaso and Tom Fahey, as well as from New Hampshire voters at the event and from three remote locations around the state.

Republican candidates scheduled to participate are: Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), businessman Herman Cain, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).

Comments from viewers can be posted to Twitter using the #CNNdebate hashtag, to the Facebook page for John King, USA, or to CNN Politics.

Sam Feist, recently named chief of CNN’s bureau in Washington, D.C., offered more details about how social media will be incorporated into the cable news network’s debate coverage (video below), saying:

The 2012 presidential campaign is, at least to me, the first presidential campaign where social media has really come of age, between Twitter, Facebook, and the wider use of the Internet as a mechanism to have conversation about politics.

The set itself is designed to allow the social media conversation to make its way into the debate hall. That video monitor is actually going to be providing a stream of social media commentary about the debate during the debate. Those comments are going to flow in that monitor throughout the debate.

If a viewer has a suggested question or wants to point out that perhaps a candidate did not answer a question, we’ll look for comments like that, and we’ll get them to John King, the moderator of the debate, and he’ll ask the candidate directly.

Social media is providing a feedback loop for the debate — it’s providing a constant source of commentary about the debate.

It’s a little bit of an experiment, but I think it will be an interesting addition to this debate.