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"And The Twitter Goes Wild" | The Nation

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The Notion

Unfiltered takes on politics, ideas and culture from Nation editors and contributors.

"And The Twitter Goes Wild"

A lot of people hate on Twitter, and for good reason. One of its most interesting effects in media, however, is how live tweets can impact television commentators more than traditional methods of audience feedback.

In this recent clip on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," for example, Mika Brzezinski anticipates Twittersphere blowback to a potential misreading of a comment by her co-host, Joe Scarborough:

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Scarborough was arguing that the political class's obsession with social issues, like gay marriage and abortion, is detracting from the economic agenda, and he also did not want to be characterized as believing those social issues were not important at all.

The medium matters, though, because TV anchors are increasingly more responsive to their audience on Twitter than any other medium.

Scarborough posts about 16 messages per day on Twitter. He uses the service most for responding directly to viewers -- about 63 percent of his tweets are replies (designated by the "@"). An analysis of Scarborough's tweeting from TweetsStats.com shows that he posts the most messages in the 10am hour, which is just after his show ends.

While a TV host could also reply to viewer mail and email, that kind of one-to-one communication is time-prohibitive. And where two-line emails might seem curt, Twitter's mandated brevity enables a different type of exchange, with feedback impacting how anchors and journalists approach their work, and their audience.

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