Twitter takes over the screen in Current TV’s presidential election coverage

Current TV is planning to turn half its screen over to TwitterWe’ve read so much about how the US 2012 Presidential election is going to be the Twitter election, as both sides ramp up their  use of social media although still  fail to engage as I wrote recently, and it has been interesting to watch it emerge and work its way deeper into the heart of mainstream media.

We got a taste of the kind of thing we might see with Twitter’s recent Olypmics deal with NBC. That proved a real learning curve for Twitter, which got into a bit of a muddle when it blocked one journalist’s account before quickly restoring it again

Now we are seeing Al Gore’s Current TV turnover half of its screen to Twitter for the US elections in an effort to help it compete and differentiate itself from its much bigger and better funded rivals such as ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox News and CNN et cetera.

That takes us increasingly close to Twitter TV where the tweets are becoming part of the programme and probably adds more fuel to the rumours of Twitter TV, which we reported on last month.

The idea is to help Current TV standout from its rivals as it bets that so many screens will look the same. It is using Twitter as a point of difference as it did in a much smaller way back in 2008:

Current TV is planning to turn half its screen over to Twitter

Current is betting that with much of the TV coverage going to look the same (with the same pool cameras and the same people giving the same speeches), there is a chance to do something different.

So, Current will be dedicating half of the real estate on its screen to a live stream of tweets (see photo above), featuring various groups, including “Team Obama,” “Team Romney,” “Tea Party Voters” and even “Mainstream Media,” which includes tweets from competitors on cable news.

“We think we can bring in real time tweets that are pertinent, and also provide some depth and catch up with things that we didn’t put on the air when they were on,” Bohrman says. “When this flood is going, there is a really interesting volume of information,” Media Bistro reports.

In the 2008 election Twitter was just getting started. This time around it is very different. USA Today writing earlier this week had a good look at how the candidates and political parties “will have squads of workers feeding social media sites and will encourage convention delegates to tweet with prearranged hashtags #GOP2012 and #DNC2012.

Add to that the journalists and public and home watching and you start to get an idea of  huge the volume of tweets will be. That poses potential problems, according to Dan Schnur who was communications director for John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign:

Spontaneous tweeting is the “antithesis” of political conventions, says Dan Schnur, who was communications director for John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. “Conventions are about singing from the same hymnbook. Twitter means everybody has their own song.”

Conventions are “rumor factories,” says Tad Devine, a Democratic political strategist who wrangled delegates at many conventions. “Having the ability to electronically send rumors out to tens of thousands of people I find to be a very disturbing development. … If anything happens off script, Twitter could be very dangerous.”

But convention organizers have embraced Twitter. They plan to make all forms of social media an integral part of the proceedings as an attempt to involve and excite supporters back home. The 2010 midterm elections provided both political parties with plenty of practice at incorporating Twitter into campaigns, despite its volatility, according to USA Today.