Lexington’s First Mayoral Candidates’ Forum

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The last Presidential inauguration was broadcast on CNN with a Facebook comment feed. The largest audience ever tuned in and could comment on the speeches, the classical music, Aretha Franklin’s hat and be part of the American political process.

Potential 2012 candidate Sarah Palin has a Twitter feed. The venerable Christian Science Monitor is an online-only publication. And most political watchers in the Commonwealth get their cues from a combination of their Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, political blogs and traditional print and broadcast media coverage.

The president in the White House made one of his first acts the appointment of a New Media Director and the “president of the Big Blue House” is 1.3 million strong on Twitter at @ukcoachcalipari. So, it only seems right that key local elections are moving to include digital participation.

Lexington’s mayoral candidates will assemble on Wednesday February 24 for Lexington’s first mayoral forum of 2010: Awesome Issues—Digital Democracy, sponsored by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky, which is administered by the School of Journalism and Telecommunications in the College of Communications and Information Studies.

The issues-oriented, digital and live forum will be the third in the Nextington series at Awesome, Inc. on E. Main Street Awesome Inc. is a small business and technology incubator that has led the way in the past few years in Lexington’s online entrepreneurial community. Previous events at Awesome, Inc. include a successful “Startup Weekend” event and a “Mobile Applications” conference, which attracted mobile app entrepreneurs and programmers from across the nation.

Mayoral candidates technology manager Skip Horine, former Mayor Teresa Isaac, Vice Mayor Jim Gray and Mayor Jim Newberry have confirmed their participation and will answer questions from a traditional press panel that includes: Tom Eblen (Columnist, Lexington Herald-Leader), Kenny Colston (Editor, The Kentucky Kernel), Erik Carlson (Reporter, Business Lexington) and others. Well-known local bloggers will ask questions as well.

The blogger panel includes: Bianca Spriggs, Rob Morris (“Under the Hood”), and Joe Sonka (“Barefoot and Progressive”).

While the live venue will have limited capacity, with room for only about 60 people, the digital debate will be wide open. The forum will be live videostreamed on Ustream, live-blogged at Cover It Live and live-Tweeted on Twitter with the hashtag #LexMayor.

And with bloggers and the digital ranks of traditional and student media present, the online presence of the event should allow for the multiple voices and perspectives ensured by a healthy and robust First Amendment freedom of speech.

The forum will be moderated by Prof. Kakie Urch of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications. Urch is an assistant professor of multimedia at the school, with experience in managing political coverage of local, statewide and federal races both online and in print for major

media companies when she was editor of The Kentucky Enquirer in Northern Kentucky, assistant managing editor of The Kentucky Post and assistant managing editor of The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, Calif.

The mission of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky is to promote understanding of the First Amendment among citizens of Kentucky, to advocate for First Amendment rights in the Commonwealth and nationally, and to produce internationally recognized scholarship concerning the First Amendment and its related freedoms.



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