By Gregg Kaufman, Georgia College ADP Coordinator
The Georgia College American Democracy Project collaborated with university/community partners, Digital Bridges and the Union Recorder newspaper to sponsor local, state, and federal candidate forums during the 2010 election season. The Digital Bridges Knight Innovation Center is a Georgia College initiative, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to assist Milledgeville, Georgia, a wireless community, by providing the public and local business community with technology resources.
The candidate forum series used candidate social network media and created video interviews that were placed on the Digital Bridges website. Georgia College Political Science faculty and students helped record “person-on-the-street” interviews where local citizens and university students posed questions for the candidates. The national Ten Questions website was also used to solicit questions for the U.S. Congressional District 12 candidate forum. The Congressional primary and general election forums, as well as the local school board and state representative and senate forums, were streamed live via the Internet and recorded for re-broadcast on local cable television and the Georgia College iTunes University page.
Georgia College faculty members helped moderate the forums, and in the case of the local school board races, convened a post-debate open forum among the candidates and the audience at the Knight Innovation Center to discuss educational issues.
The mid-term election collaborative efforts advanced beyond conventional media outlet political coverage by providing citizens additional access to their political candidates through the use of digital media and face-to-face encounters. The collaborators anticipate learning from the experiment and building on their experience for the 2012 election cycle.