Using Journalism to Bridge Divides – Spaceship Media (POY 39)

Using Journalism to Bridge Divides - Spaceship Media (POY 39)

Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay founded Spaceship Media to convince opposing sides to talk. They’re using journalism to reconnect Americans and restore trust.

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About Spaceship Media and Dialogue Journalism

Americans’ trust in the news media is at an all-time low, and most are now saying the news is politically biased in favor of one political party over the other. In 2016, two veteran journalists from Alameda, California—Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay—decided to do something about it.

They mapped out a new approach to reporting the news and co-founded a nonprofit organization called Spaceship Media, where they help news organizations build bridges between groups that are separated by conflict.

The result was what Eve and Jeremy call dialogue journalism. Instead of deciding what a story should be in an office somewhere, then going into the field to frame a narrative around it, they look for situations where Americans are divided and go there—not to exploit the groups affected by conflict but to help them better understand one another.

Their first project was a series of dialogues between Alameda police officers and students of color at a local high school, who often felt at odds with one another before Spaceship Media reached out to them.

Their second project was the Alabama Calfornia Conversation Project, which they started almost immediately after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016. For that project, they recruited 25 female volunteers from Alabama and 25 female volunteers from the California Bay Area to participate in a series of online conversations with one another.

Eve and Jeremy’s work are helping to reduce polarization in our culture, and they hope to restore trust in journalism as an institution.

Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay, co-founders of Spaceship Media, share the duties in facilitating community discussions through journalism.
Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay, co-founders of Spaceship Media, share the duties in facilitating community discussions through journalism. (Source)

Now what?

Homework for you

If you like the concept behind dialogue journalism and want to help it become more popular, visit spaceshipmedia.org and share your ideas with Eve and Jeremy. You can also tell your local news outlets about Spaceship Media and stories that might be relevant to them and your area.

Even better, if you want to help people not be so divided or make yourself more aware of what the “other side” is saying, visit the places they visit online. Click here for an example of how liberal Facebook feeds and conservative Facebook feeds compare to one another across the same topics.

What I’ve learned from Eve and Jeremy’s work is that groups on two sides of an issue aren’t necessarily in conflict because of different ideologies, although that can be part of the problem. Another way to think about it is that the groups are looking at the same situation but from different perspectives, and what separates them is their willingness to communicate, just like the women from Alabama and California discovered in the conversation project. Try to remember that the next time you encounter someone whose beliefs make no sense to you on the surface. You don’t have to agree, but understanding the context for why they believe what they believe can at least help you respect what they have to say.

Further reading

  • Read more about Spaceship Media or contact Eve and Jeremy at spaceshipmedia.org.
  • Follow Spaceship Media on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Read more on the Alabama California Conversation Project at AL.com (see also the related links under “Talking Politics”).

What Do You Think?

I’d love to talk about your thoughts on this story or anything you’d like to share. Please email me below, leave a comment or message on Facebook, or tweet me @pluralofyou.