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MU Expert Available for Media Commentary on YouTube Democratic Presidential Debate

July 20, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, Phone Number,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — There's a new twist to presidential debates. For the first time, candidates will be questioned by everyday citizens via video by YouTube. Mitchell S. McKinney, associate professor of communication at the University of Missouri-Columbia, will analyze Monday night's Democratic forum.

McKinney, an international expert on presidential debates, has analyzed the process of citizens questioning candidates during debates and how Internet and video technology might be used in televised debates to engage young voters.

His research shows:

  • When citizens question candidates during debates, such as Town Hall debates, their questions are fundamentally different than those by journalists.
  • Debates in which citizens are involved as questioners result in less candidate clash and also elicit more direct candidate responses.
  • Viewers of debates, in which questions are asked by citizens, report greater learning and higher levels of interest in the on-going campaign.

McKinney's research also shows that candidate forums and debates that involve innovations such as the use of video segments and Internet questions are particularly effective in reaching younger voters.

In addition to advising several committees, McKinney has conducted extensive research of various candidates in their previous debate performances, including such candidates as George W. Bush and Al Gore in their 2000 presidential debates and John Kerry and John Edwards in their 2004 Democratic primary debates.

In 1992, he consulted with the Commission on Presidential Debates, advising the Commission on how debates could be structured in order to better educate citizens on significant campaign issues. The author of The 1992 Presidential Debates in Focus, McKinney has co-authored and edited four other books and numerous research articles on presidential debates.

Most recently, he advised the presidential debate committee of South Korea as Seoul officials planned their 2002 televised presidential debates.