Tonight was our first Presidential Debate. I entered this debate with the mindset that no matter what was said, nothing would sway my vote from Obama. Although I feel that Romney objectively won the debate, this is still the case. Obama is my dude. #2012Forward.
But according to Twitter, you know who actually won the debate? Big Bird.
And the biggest loser? Jim Fehrer.
This is the first major Presidential Debate that has occurred during the prime of Twitter. In 2008, during our last election, Twitter resembled LeBron James at the same time period: extremely effective in its methods and unquestionably gaining steam, but it was no Kobe Bryant (Facebook).
This is no longer the case. Twitter is the go-to social media platform for media based on its ability to be act as both a top-down distributor and a social media platform. So tonight, October 3, 2012, we had our first ever Twitter-centric debate. And unsurprisingly, the actual issues were discussed even less than they were within the context of the actual debate.
Yes, there were many people within the trending topics of #debate and #DenverDebate that actually quoted and discussed the issues being levied by President Obama and Governor Romney. But the two topics that rose quickly to the top of the “Trending Topics” area were Jim Fehrer, the overmatched moderator of the debate, and Big Bird, a muppet bird who lives on Sesame Street.
Huh? Is this where citizen journalism has brought us?
According to the Lilleker & Jackson article, citizen journalism is supposed to act as an independent moderator on the area of politicians as brands. So is it a win for citizen journalism that the two biggest social media phenomenons from Wednesday’s debate boiled down to a.) Jim Fehrer is kinda a moron and b.) Did Mitt Romney seriously crap on Big Bird?!!?!!??!!
I think yes, this is a win for citizen journalism, because I feel that any representation of citizen journalism is inherently good. The fact that political awareness is being raised on a broad spectrum raises awareness of the process and furthers democracy in some way. Not everybody can be hyper-focused on the campaign. There will always be people who simply don’t care as much about the election. In 2008, a little over 125 million voters turned out for the election. As recently as February of 2012, there were 500 million Twitter users. Regardless of how many of these 500 million can vote/are real people, that is a massive audience that is inherently subjected to political discourse during this particular evening. The Presidential Debate was a worldwide trending topic. If you were tuned into Twitter on October 3, there was a strong chance you saw something about the 2012 American Presidential election.
This is what citizen journalism is best at. It will never be comprehensive. It will never be detail-oriented. But what it does well is raise awareness. If previously uninformed prospective voters came out of tonight knowing that Mitt Romney hates Big Bird and that the moderator for the Presidential Debate did a bad job, then that is two more tidbits of information than they would of known otherwise. There are still two Presidential debates and one Vice-Presidential debate left. All things considered, I think Twitter hit this debate out of the park.