Public impeachment hearing coverage sees change in viewership

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the rise in social media and online news resources, the first public impeachment hearings for the Trump administration has a different kind of viewership than previous hearings.

Howard Fenton is a Madison resident who had spent time working in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, he was tuned into the public impeachment hearings projected onto a screen at the Memorial Union.

“I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t more people here,” said Fenton. “This is kind of a historic moment.”

Fenton can recall watching the hearings for President Nixon and Clinton on television.

“You know people were just massed around the television and watching what was going on in news coverage,” Fenton said.

Fenton believes many people opt to keep up with what’s happening through social media rather than dropping their day to sit down and watch.

At James Madison Memorial High School, David Olson permitted his AP U.S. Government students to watch a portion of the witness testimony.

“It’s important for students to understand that history is something that happens in the moment,” said Olson, the Social Students Department chair. “It’s important for me to not only answer students questions about what’s happening but also allow them to see some of what’s happening.”

Olson said many of his students get their news via online resources and not through traditional mediums.

“I think some of the difference today in 2019 versus the late 90s is there are so many more news sources where students get different kinds of news,” said Olson. “Where students get different points of view on the news often does color their view of the things that they’re hearing and seeing.”

On Friday, the public hearings will continue starting at 8 a.m. and featuring testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.