Hoak’s KSFY Sioux Falls is trying something different while covering the Sioux Falls mayoral election, which has six candidates in the running. Candidates on Demand kicks off at 6:30 tonight with a half hour special, then viewers will submit questions via email, Facebook and Twitter for the candidates to address between 7 and 9.
There will be a host as opposed to a moderator, says GM Chris Sehring. “Our goal is to create a one-on-one ‘dialogue’ between the Viewer/User and each of the six candidates,” he says via email.
KSFY’s Website encourages users to submit questions with the tag line “Your community, your mayor. YOU should ask the questions.”
“We wanted to try something new,” reads the site. “Something that goes beyond the formality and impersonality of the standard ‘podium and microphone’ political debate. This is your community. The decisions made by our next mayor will directly impact the lives of you and your family. We want you to have the opportunity to ask the questions that will help you make the best decision this election day.”
Sehring says it’s “uncharted territory” for the station and perhaps a risky play, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Of course, the networks have used newer media to engage viewers in the debate process for some time. CNN and YouTube, for example, held a joint debate between the Democratic presidential hopefuls, including a young Illinois senator named Barack Obama, in July 2007. Over 2,300 questions were submitted by users via video clip.
KSFY is the ABC affiliate in DMA #113, and a runner up to Young’s KELO. KELO is also asking users to submit questions for the candidates on KELOLand.com, which the mayoral hopefuls will answer in a live forum on KELO’s sister MyNet station tomorrow night.