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University to air presidential debate in conjunction with DebateWatch initiative

Georgia Southern University’s Department of Communication Arts will host a screening of the first of the 2012 presidential candidate debates on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology, Room 1005. The debate is scheduled for 9-10:30 p.m., but the event will begin at 8:30 p.m. with a brief pre-debate presentation by Dr. Patrick Wheaton, a political communication scholar and former collegiate debate coach. Wheaton will also mediate a discussion following the debate.

“The presidential campaign debates are the one opportunity for most Americans to hear directly from the candidates, to compare the candidates side-by-side without the spin of slick advertising or the filtering of media pundits,” Wheaton said. “The debates offer us the opportunity to see and hear the candidates in a relatively spontaneous forum, rather than listening to carefully crafted, prepared advertisements or speeches.”

The pre-debate talk will include a brief review of the history of political debates and the role and value of the debates, in addition to the candidate’s preparation process for debates.

“While the debates do not typically sway voters, they do increase voter knowledge of the issues and the candidates,” Wheaton said.

During the non-partisan post-debate discussion audience members will be asked about the candidates and their stances on the issues in a “what did you learn?” rather than “what do you think, agree or disagree with?” context.

Georgia Southern’s airing and discussion of the presidential debate is presented in conjunction with DebateWatch, a voter education event associated with the Commission on Presidential Debates and the National Communication Association. This year, the NCA is inviting debate viewers to tweet their reactions to the candidates’ responses using #NCADebates12. The University has participated in every DebateWatch presidential election event since 2000.

For more information about the event, contact Wheaton at pwheaton@georgiasouthern.edu.

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