After the first presidential candidate debate last week, Jacob Soboroff’s ’01 night was just beginning.
Alternating between a Twitter feed, a Google Plus video conference, a live guest and clips of each candidate, Soboroff and two other co-hosts broke down the debate, dissecting each candidate’s effectiveness and honesty.
Soboroff is a host for the Huffington Post’s broadcast branch, HuffPost Live.
He joined the project in January 2012, when a few former colleagues offered him a job that was “new, different and hadn’t been done before,” he said. The goal was to spark discussion between normal people.
“The idea of my job is that I facilitate conversations, not debates,” Soboroff said. “Really it’s a forum for everyone to become part of the news, not just consume it. We’re not out in the field reporting, we’re having discussion about how what we see in the news is affecting our daily lives.”
The show invites professionals to speak and provide insight, but most of the conversation is spurred by viewer commentary. The streams are all on one screen, integrating Twitter reactions, Google calls and live interviews.
Often, HuffPost Live hosts invite viewers into the video chat if they speak authoritatively or with strong opinion on the subject at hand.
Soboroff was also part of the program’s “Shadow Conventions,” where HuffPost Live covered issues not discussed on a national platform during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
The “Shadow Conventions” spotlighted three issues that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats addressed at their conventions: the war on drugs, poverty in America, and money in politics.
Recently, Soboroff has done interviews with television personalities Bill Maher and Larry King among others, chatting with his guests about pertinent political policies and topics that will affect voters all around the country.
“It’s one, all-encompassing experience,” he said. “We’re trying to give a voice to those who don’t really have one in the mainstream media right now. It’s really cool to be a megaphone for those people.”
Though Soboroff doesn’t always choose his guests, he regulates the discussion, asking questions on his own accord. Soboroff also frequently takes questions some from his social networking audience.
Days before each broadcast, he posts who he’ll be interviewing on his Facebook page and fields topics of interest from friends and family alike.
He said if he wants to make one thing abundantly clear about his job, it’s that he wants ideas.
“There’s a big red button on our site that says ‘join this segment,’ because we want people like you – students – to tell us what’s on your mind so that we can broadcast stories that might be missing,” he said. “What I really like is input. Not only am I going to read viewers’ questions on the air, but I might even invite them on air with me. It’s a whole different way of doing things.”