Journalism students host congressional debate via Twitter

University of New Mexico students used their social media skills Thursday to host a Twitter town hall debate between First Congressional District candidates U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and challenger Mike Frese.

Working with the online news site the New Mexico News Port (@NMNewsPort), students asked the candidates about the minimum wage, student debt, immigration and legalizing marijuana.

Grisham, a Democrat, (@Michelle4NM) replied by tweet, “I support increasing the min wage to $10.10/hr. I’m an original cosponsor of the HR1010 to raise the wage nationwide.”

HR1010 is the Minimum Wage act of 2013. It amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The Republican, Frese (@MikeFreseforNM1) responded with, “raising min wage in NM is going to drive it further into recession, sending businesses to our competing states.”

All of the tweets from the event can be found by searching the hashtag #nm2014 or in our recap.

Students in a UNM journalism class hosted a Twitter town hall debate on campus Thursday. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and challenger Mike Frese took questions from students for an hour using the microblogging site. Photo by Derrick Toledo / NM News Port

The class hosting the debate, Intermediate Reporting CJ 375, formed four teams, each with a specific mission. One team did fact checking while another monitored the Twitter feed for audience questions. A third team worked on follow up questions for the candidates while another team curated, or collected all the tweets from the event. You can see that collection here.

“For the first time ever doing something like that, I thought it went really well. It’s awesome both candidates agreed to partake,” said journalism student Liam Cary-Eaves.

Mia Clark, another student in CJ 375, said she liked the event.

“Twitter Town Hall was a fun way to interact with the candidates. It’s not very often that public figures hold full conversations, let alone a political debate via social media. Now that the kinks have been worked out, I think we should do more of them.”

About 25 students participated in the Twitter town hall event with First Congressional District candidates Thursday. Photo by Derrick Toledo / NM News Port