Join the Twibate… Yeah, I said Twibate.

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I’m putting on my socks!

I’m opening the fridge.

I’m eating a bagel.

These are the types of mundane Twitter posts ABC probably hopes to avoid when it launches its new digital news program, NightTline.

In case you didn’t catch it, the extra “T” stands for Twitter. The weekly program is structured in a debate format, with two guests going head-to-head on an issue, while also utilizing Twitter to allow viewers to ask questions and comment on the discussion in real-time.

Basically, NightTline is a next generation call-in show.

Of course, this is not the first time a news program has used Twitter to interact with viewers or listeners. Most, if not all, of the major news networks already use Twitter in some fashion to get news out to people as well as to communicate with their audience faster. And it’s not just television news. I listen to NPR almost everyday on my morning commute, and they’ve been using Twitter (among other things like email and even Second Life) for a while now to communicate with listeners.

I think the thing that sets NightTline apart from all the rest is that it’s not just regurgitating Tweets on the air; it’s allowing viewers to become part of the show by joining in on the debate. Think of it as a Choose Your Own Adventure news program, where viewer contributions point the debate in a direction they are actually interested in hearing. The show isn’t just using Twitter as a supplemental tool to its news coverage, it’s relying on it to steer the program. Of course, the outcome depends solely on the Tweets ABC lets through, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I applaud ABC, and for that matter anyone who uses Twitter in a way that is actually productive and useful. It’s one thing for a person to use this burgeoning social platform as a means of communicating every little thing they do (thanks “celebrities”), but when someone actually uses Twitter to help inform people and share useful information, I can’t help but see that as a step in the right direction.

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