PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was billed “Campaign Coverage in the Time of Twitter,” a discussion at Carnegie Mellon University on the growing role of social media and internet technology in news coverage of politics.

“Technology seems to affect every aspect of our lives and presidential campaigns and politics is no different,” says Prof. Ed Schlesinger of CMU’s Engineering Department and the program’s moderator.

The panel, which included Kevin Begos from the Associated Press, Tim McNulty from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and KDKA-TV Money & Politics Editor Jon Delano, fielded questions and comments from students.

McNulty, who writes “Early Returns,” the Post Gazette’s political blog, says of social media, “It’s essential.”

“I couldn’t do my job without it. A few years ago I used to make fun of things like Twitter, and now I use it constantly, every single second of the work day,” says McNulty.

CMU graduate student Ardon Shorr says he and his friends don’t watch TV for political news.

“We get all of our information online. Facebook is a huge source of articles and we also share videos a lot on Facebook.”

One of the concerns with going to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for political news is that it runs the risk that you will only chose those websites, those media that reinforce your political prejudices.

“I think it happens a lot,” says CMU graduate student David Gordon.

But Gordon says the internet also opens up alternative views.

“I have access to a ton of venues that really address the other sides,” Gordon notes.

Others worry that social media drains resources from traditional news coverage, like CMU English professor Kathy M. Newman, who is also a community activist.

“Sometimes there are just not enough reporters in the newsroom to come to the rally that I’ve organized,” says Newman.

But like it or not, campaign coverage through social media is a reality.

Delano: “Is this the wave of the future?”

McNulty: “It’s already here. The future’s already here.”

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