THIRD RAIL WITH OZY, which aired on PBS stations in the fall of 2017, invited expert and celebrity guests to discuss a series of provocative topics, such as “Is Violence Part of America’s DNA” and “Is Sexual Harassment Inevitable in the Workplace?”
The program’s mission was “to present new voices and valuable dialogue for the digital age.” To do so, producers relied heavily on social media where they announced the topic for each show. The views and perspectives shared on the program's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages helped shape the discussion on that week’s broadcast.
In soliciting views about various topics, THIRD RAIL’s social media team took great care to establish rules to keep the dialogue civil and fair. For example, the Community Guidelines posted on the program’s Facebook page included the following:
Rigorous social media engagement not only helped inform THIRD RAIL, it provided producers with nearly instantaneous feedback and helped keep them accountable. For example, after the airing of one episode, a guest complained on Facebook about an exchange that was edited out of the broadcast. In response, producers asked PBS’s public editor to investigate and decided, in the interest of transparency, to publish online an unedited transcript. (“Live or Edited?,” from Oct. 4, 2017.)