Don’t Like Twitter’s Election Site? C-SPAN Has a Way Cooler Alternative (Really!)


We were pleasantly surprised last month when C-SPAN launched an innovative website for covering the Democratic and Republican conventions. Today, as the nation prepares for the first Presidential Debate, the cable network is launching an even more impressive effort with a number of interactive features for keeping up with the proceedings as they happen and analyzing them after the fact.

Named Debate Hub, the site includes the same TwitterTwitterTwitter integration as the Convention Hub site that C-SPAN launched last month, which, like Twitter’s own election site, cascades real-time updates of what people are saying about debate topics. Debate Hub also archives all of the Tweets and tracks the most active users.

Beyond the Twitter integration though, C-SPAN has created multiple ways to sort through video from the debate, which will run on about a 10-minute delay from what’s happening live. The first feature is the Debate Timeline, which allows you to navigate through the debate chronologically and see which issues are being discussed at what times and who is talking. In a demo this morning, the site was filled with content from the Kerry/Bush debates from ’04, so, for example, you could jump to six minutes in and see video of both Bush and Kerry responding to questions from Jim Lehrer about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. All videos can be embedded elsewhere.

Moving on, Debate Hub also features a word tree, allowing you to click on specific keywords that were mentioned during the debate, and then filter by candidate. For example, click on “nuclear” and you will see the 14 times that the word was mentioned during the first Kerry/Bush debate, and then be able to watch the video from that segment of the debate. While watching the video, you can also pull up the text transcript from the segment to follow along.

Finally, the C-SPAN site also pulls in blog and mainstream coverage from dozens of sources from all sides of the political spectrum. You can either opt to view all posts as they come in, or filter to a specific site if you’d prefer to see posts from only one source.

Debate Hub is expected to go live today sometime after 1PM ET, with the debate starting at 9PM ET tonight.

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  • JamesBruni
    Great post, Adam. C-SPAN also has a livestreaming channel on Mogulus that is streaming a behind the scenes look at the debates. You gotta hand to C-SPAN --- they "get it..."
  • Adam -- thanks again for hearing us out on this (C-SPAN/NMS/JESS3 teams involved). We really feel that it will be a great resource for folks to make up their own minds and provide their own take on the event. C-SPAN has connecting folks to their government for decades through their cameras and the web has been another technology to help them to continue to facilitate this (check out all of their archives at, lots of embeddable/editable stuff there too). Including diverse voices has also been a part of their mission, so linking to bloggers and having tweets on the site is C-SPAN 2.0 to a T.

    Also -- want to make sure that the credit in the world to Biz Stone, Ev Williams and the Twitter team as well for putting their election site together (not to mention the platform itself!) Speaking personally, I am a firm believer in providing as many tools as possible to become an educated and active citizen and think all of the election sites rolling out help achieve that.

    Rock on!


    Leslie A. Bradshaw
    President // JESS3
    Public Affairs Communications Manager // NMS
  • Great Article! It's a great way to get the younger voters involved and really understand the issues! Its also great to see someone like C-Span encourage this, which also gets the older audience involved a social networking atmosphere. I think its a very very smart idea
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