Independent joins partnership of journalism and social media

The Independent, Russia's Gazeta and India's Mint all meet on LiveJournal for US Election discussion and debate
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The Independent has announced its participation in a unique global community dedicated to the discussion of the 2008 US presidential campaign.

Called US Elections 2008, the community is for journalists from newspapers outside of the United States to gather the views and opinions of US citizens regarding the pending presidential election. The community is intended to facilitate wide-ranging public discussion of important political issues, including reactions of people in the US and abroad to the issues faced by the US presidential candidates.

Participating newspapers include The Independent from the United Kingdom, from Russia, and Mint from India. New topics are presented by journalists posting questions or articles for review in this community. Participants then respond to those questions and their views, when necessary, are translated into the language of the publication to represent the views of those living within the United States.

Anyone interested in monitoring or joining in on the conversations can do so at: .

Jimmy Leach, editorial director for digital at The Independent, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for journalists at The Independent to talk directly to US citizens about the election, as well as for citizens in the UK, India, Russia, and around the world to debate an election which affects all of us. This is an unprecedented use of the web to go beyond traditional media and hear directly from real citizens rather than pollsters and pundits."

The community officially went live on September 26 and its clear that politics and passion go hand in hand. Following up on the opening question (Do you think Sarah Palin is ready to be president? And does that make McCain's age an issue?) journalists from the participating newspapers have also introduced topics such as the current US economic debacle, outsourcing, terrorism, abortion, the qualifications of both Vice President candidates, the role of the Web in the election process, as well as heated discussions following the two debates thus far.

For the 7 October presidential debate, The Independent will also be liveblogging on the site and posting questions to the community coinciding with the candidates' comments.

"We're very proud to host the US Elections 2008 community, as LiveJournal has always had a culture of passion and participation built atop a unique global perspective," said Matthew Berardo, Vice President and General Manager of LiveJournal. "To be able to let our users express their opinions to some of the world's most prestigious media companies is truly an exciting opportunity. It also means that citizens from around the world can debate an election which affects us all."

"We are honored to participate in this community and fascinated to see how the conversations continue to develop," said a spokesman for "Given that US-Russia relations are part of the presidential debate, having direct access to US citizens on this topic is a truly groundbreaking territory."