Challenges and limits of depolarization
Strengthened after lunch, we had a round of flash lectures starting with Sham Jaff (Newsletter “What happened last week?”). In her speech titled “The public is not mainstream”, Sham argued that communities who seem disengaged from public debate are not properly represented in mainstream media. Sham made the case that when mainstream media fails to represent debates central to these specific communities, they not only feel alienated, but are also deprived of spaces to exchange opinions and receive feedback from the wider public.
We then heard from Jana Simon and Philip Faigle, who co-host the podcast from ZEIT ONLINE “Warum denken sie das” (why do you think like that). The podcast brings together two people with different opinions for a moderated discussion about one topic of disagreement. Jana and Philip gave us a peek behind the scenes of producing the podcast, and what it takes to really report about all sides of the political spectrum.
Richard Fletcher is director of research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and is lead researcher and co-author of the Digital News Report – the world's largest annual survey of global news consumption. Richard shared the results from a representative survey of 12 countries on news audience polarization. The results showed the level of polarization in the news media landscape as well as how polarized different audiences are. See the results here.
Finally, we heard from Wawrzyniec Smoczyński, the co-founder and head of the New Community Foundation, an organization whose mission is to reduce polarization and foster community dialogue in Poland. Wawrzyniec gave an overview of the state of polarization in Poland today, a country facing extreme political division. Wawrzyniec believes that the way forward is through constructive dialogue programs like the one he runs at the Foundation. Check out their work here.