Political party lines and growing divides are creating new challenges in facilitating the exchange of information.
The Center for Media Engagement proposes a new approach to address the problems associated with divisiveness in our society, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting this method with a five-year, $2.5 million investment to support “The Project on Connective Democracy.”
The funding supports the center’s expansion as it develops a collaborative method for newsrooms, scholars, platforms and public policy entities to address issues of polarization in society.
“The practice of connective democracy asks scholars to collaborate throughout the research process,” said center director Talia Stroud. “It spans idea generation, study design, data collection, the interpretation of findings, the sharing of results and the leveraging of findings to affect practice.”
Originally founded as the Engaging News Project in 2011, the Center for Media Engagement launched in 2017, and it works to sustain a vibrant news media through research and testing of strategies for delivering news and informing the public.
The center has partnered with 75 newsrooms to conduct research that results in tangible practices that increase public connection and engagement.
Stroud said media are at the core of this approach, as they both amplify and allay societal fissures. Certain practices, such as featuring and humanizing those with diverse views, can help people appreciate other perspectives.
“The media are at the heart of our connective democracy endeavor,” Stroud said. “By working with them, we can promote bonds across divided groups.”
The Knight Foundation is making a $50 million investment to fund new, cross-disciplinary research at 11 American universities and research institutions. Each recipient will focus on different approaches to studying the future of democracy in the digital age.