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CCI’s Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Aids UT’s Baker Center/Nexstar in Final Senatorial Debate

DebateThe Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, hosted the second and final debate in the Senate race between Representative Marsha Blackburn (now senator-elect) and former governor Phil Bredesen on October 10.

The debate was a partnership between the Baker Center and Nexstar Media Group Inc., which broadcast the event statewide. Nexstar is the parent company of local ABC affiliate WATE-TV.

“The Baker Center was honored to contribute to the nation’s democratic process by hosting this signature debate between our two Tennessee candidates for US Senate,” said the center’s director, Matt Murray. “The effectiveness of democracy hinges on an educated electorate, citizen engagement, and informed debate.”

The debate was video recorded on a closed set with no audience. UT hosted a live remote viewing event at Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building.

At the remote viewing, UT System President Joe DiPietro provided opening remarks and representatives from CCI’s Adam Brown Social Media Command Center provided live analysis.

“We were very lucky to partner with the Baker Center to provide real-time social media analysis during the senatorial debate,” said Courtney Childers, associate professor and executive director of the command center. “Our students in the College of Communication and Information benefit from this technology on a daily basis, and we were excited to create an engaging debate experience for the audience.”

The command center, established in 2016 with gifts from CCI advertising alumni Adam Brown and Charlie Tombras, is one of only a few such facilities housed at a university. It offers students, faculty, and staff full access to Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud Social Studio, a technology used by Fortune 100 companies to publish, engage, and analyze their social media marketing activities.

WBIR-TV in Knoxville profiled the work done behind the scenes by Associate Professor Courtney Childers and doctoral student Brandon Boatwright. (