Session Transcripts

A live transcription team captured the SRCCON sessions that were most conducive to a written record—about half the sessions, in all.

Why you are part of the filter bubble problem and what you can do about it

Session facilitator(s): Sonya Song

Day & Time: Friday, 10-11:15am

Room: Ski-U-Mah

SONYA: So how many of you are reporters or editors? Yes? Engineers? No engineers. How about other people?


SONYA: Other. Please specify.

I’m a news researcher, so I produce some content, but not on a daily basis.

SONYA: Nice. Nice.

I’m academic, so I do research as well. And I have produced content. But I might be – maybe call myself a data journalist. But also researcher.

SONYA: Nice. Great.

Researcher data visualization specialist is my title.

Nailed it. That’s it.

SONYA: Oh, nice. Wow. So are you working with a university?

Yeah. The University of Maryland.

SONYA: Sweet.


SONYA: I did a task for University of Michigan. There’s a big information school there. They study a lot of – but University of Maryland is big too. A lot of research.


SONYA: Welcome, everyone. Please.

So this is like other sessions. There will be a group discussion. We’ll try to figure out what cause filter bubbles. And then I will ask you to learn some lessons and tips from other disciplines.

So my background, I’m a media researcher. I work with Chartbeat. We collect data every day from thousands of publishers. Before that, I work as a OpenNews fellow, which is kind of the initiator of SRCCON conference. Back then, I worked with the Boston globe, and I published something called sharing fast and slow, and I think it’s relevant today. I also work with the Berkman center and Google policy program, and I studied firewall. I’m from China, so I’m very curious about those things.

Before that in Beijing, I studied computer science, and I also worked as a reporter covering technology and business.

So today, I try to, you know, explore different aspects of filter bubbles. First, why do you think now we are here? Why do we have such a problem? But then if you think it’s really bad or it’s just very visible. Before, you know, it’s kind of, like, oh, I didn’t know. But now you know.

And I’ll show you some additives. The open question would be why we have such a problem. Could we find some remedies?

Next, we’re going to share some tips and lessons from other disciplines like marketers, for instance. Advertisers. You know, some people may not like the idea, but let’s see if we could get some possibilities to work our way through filter bubbles. And then we’ll have a group exercise around your table mates. We’ll discuss something together. And then we’ll have presentation from each group.

So this is a chart from pew research. The left is very, very liberal and the right is very, very conservative, and then you have different new resources including CNN, NPR, MSNBC, New York Times, local TV, and Fox News.

So the takeaway is the more you’re on the ends of the spectrum and the more – actually, on this side end of the spectrum, you rely on mainly one news source, which is Fox News. But in the middle what people stay on the fence, so they actually have more assorted news sources. This is one take away. And then the implication would be, say, if you think Fox News reports something that is incorrect, and then you say okay. I want to debunk this story and publish on my own research. So how would you reach the audience that you want to reach because they wouldn’t come to your website. Even though they come to your website, they say I don’t trust your content.

As this slide shows, this is also from the same pew research, and you find the links of the shared document under our title.

So on the left, this is, again, very, very liberal. On the right, that is very conservative. The same thing with the lower part of the chart. And then you have different news sources; right? And then the Purple indicates I trust a media source. Yellow means that I don’t trust.

So you can see that very liberal people trust, for instance, BBC, NPR, PBS.

But even look at conservative people, they will trust Fox News and Breitbart and then Glenn Beck Program.

So, again, what people can you reach? Second is if the people trust you.

This is a research that we did together with the New York Times. So, again, there’s this serious story about immigration. And then some publishers say that, hey, Trump size in the immigration crowd is not the biggest, and they show all kinds of evidence. But if you look at engagement time on the right as conservative audience, on the left as liberal audience. The radio is about ten to one on that story. But if you look at the supply of the content, it’s almost one to one from both sides. So that’s another take away.

And then if you look at the Bowling Green massacre, both the left and right side covered the story. But if you look at the consumption, again, it’s almost ten to one. That means the people on the right just don’t want to ready it. So that’s another take away. So now you see there’s three barriers to go through the filter bubble. First, you have to reach the people, second, you have to gain the trust, and then the third, you have to make them read a story. It’s, like, please. So it’s not an easy –

And then what some reporters say, I debunk full stories, and then I don’t care, you know, what we shall do after I write a story. And I don’t want to take any – this is the way I write the story. If I think you’re an idiot, I’ll call you an idiot. This is the way I do things.

Yeah, that’s one way to do things. There’s a quote from centuries ago. One when the interval between the intellectual classes and the practical classes is too great, the former will possess no fluency and the latter will reap no benefits.

So, yes, you possess the truth, but maybe you’re a lonely, lonely thinker. So the world doesn’t bother listening to you or reading your stories. But some people, they may not know the truth. They may not good at reasoning, but they simply talk a lot, and then they reach a lot of people, so they actually have a influence. But you don’t necessarily have a positive impact for our society or civilization.

So another guy that’s controversial because he was the father of public relations, he said someone has to bridge this interval in our modern complex civilization.

And in his book such as crystallized public opinion, he would give a lot of techniques how you could reach different groups of people through bridges. Because, you know, people are always connected some way. For instance, give an example. Republicans and Democrats may walk their dog in the same park. They may take the same subway. Their kids may go to the same school, et cetera, et cetera.

So let’s talk about this problem. Why do you think we have a filter bubble problem? Is this really bad or visual? Or it’s getting worse because of technology? And the second, it may not be pleasant to talk about, but are we part of the problem because the way we cover stories. The way we reach our audiences, the, you know, and other factors.

Any thoughts?

Well, I think as human beings, we like to be with people ourselves. The tribe. That’s why we tend to fall in these filter bubbles. It’s more comfortable.

SONYA: Yes, in a comfortable zone.

So there’s a paper from ages ago a particular news organization story was. So if you have one organization, pretty centrist. But as soon as you introduce a second one, the center one goes one way and the another one goes the other way, so they become more diverse to get unique audiences.

So that feeds into problem number two that you’re trying to get unique audiences, so it’s a self perpetuating issue.

SONYA: Exactly because you serve different market sectors. When you’re in a monopoly, you just cover the big mass. You cover the – whoever. The center. And then the ones there are two or three, they always separate audience.

And then why do you think – any thoughts why reporters contribute to this problem? Or it’s not our responsibility.

Something that was discussed yesterday in the A11ys meeting was – was it that one? Something to do with the style of outlep. So a journalist will have to use certain word to describe certain groups of people or certain events, and then that might serve to drive – cause this problem to get worse. To identify the words to describe, and then you avoid that content.

SONYA: Exactly. Exactly. For instance, some people may call Chelsea Manning I traitor. Some call her a whistle blower. Definitely your own loaded words.

It’s sort of a catch 22. Classically, there are organizations who try to be very careful with language and so the wire services; right? So I trained at the associated press, and we would be – we really thought about that stuff.

The problem is people who care about the issue don’t want to read that; right? Very centrist, moderate, careful, just the facts reporting is not nearly as engaging as opinionated or providing meaning. And there’s been a very long-term shift from event-based reporting to contextual reporting, which you can see in a lot of different ways over the last century.

SONYA: Exactly. And a lot of people argue that it’s not always a good way to be neutral and balanced while you cover a story. For instance, you spend 50% of time covering climate change deniers, and then you spend another 50% of the time this is not the case. But the audience can be very, very confused.

So just tell me what I should think about this issue.

And maybe that’s about media literacy as well. You know, what people should read and then how they should consume and process the information.

Any thoughts?

So generally, I think filter bubbles are formed around genres and opinionators; right? Because we have opinion, as a reporter. And then some celebrities may say, hey, I hate fur coats, and then a lot of people will surround her saying we won’t buy fur products.

And then they have different policies. So they would attract different people. So filter bubbles are generally formed around those.

Which is both good and bad because, actually, it gives a chance when we want to target a group of people, we should try to identify the leader in that group. So if we can sway that person, generally, we will have a better chance to sway the whole group.

So do you think we have any solutions either for ourselves? For instance, I watch only PBS and only listen to NPR. And do you think I should change that media habit?

And also when I cover stories, I – as you guys mentioned, I use particular language to cover a group of people, and I don’t feel sorry about that.

So what do you think?

So I think about why we stay in filter bubbles, and it’s because it’s comfortable. And because we have no incentive to go outside for that bubble. And we have no incentive because we don’t actually need for a lot of people, particularly white people, you can choose – if you choose to stay away from the races, for instance, like, you’re unaffected by them. And so the only people who choose to engage are the people who have to, otherwise, they can’t exist. Or they choose – they have to engage.

So I think about what we have to do is make it so, like, it’s worthwhile to engage with everyone else. And the thing that I hope is when people do engage, like – I mean, we’re social creatures. If we come to know another person, we like them a little bit more. So if we make it worthwhile to know the other person, then naturally, hopefully we work with each other more.

SONYA: Yeah, as you mentioned during your session when you talk about LGBT rights, you will knock on the door and talk to people. And have you ever been excluded, not because you belong to the LGBT community, but for other reasons? Then that’s one way to relate the people.

So maybe at some moment, you’re very vulnerable, and then you need some help and support.

Okay. Let’s move on.

I think we could also listen, though, you know, listen to other people. And I think that’s follow ten people on your Twitter account that you have nothing, you know – you don’t know anything about them or they’re of a different race or different class or they’re conservative, and I think maybe it’s because of what I do. But I’m just really interested in other views. I think it helps in reporting. But sometimes you have to be forced to find that information as well.

SONYA: And you mentioned that it may not be comfortable.

Yeah. It’s not comfortable at all. I mean, sometimes it’s very maddening. But I think you’re less surprised when something big happens.

How do you find those people? Because oftentimes the most vocal people on Twitter are inflammatory. And then what they’re saying is less useful because it seems more to drive a reaction rather than what’s real. Do you know what I mean? How do you find people.

Well, I think one of the – one of the – it was definitely story-based. So in Oregon, we had an occupation of a refuge about a year or so ago, and I learned a lot about the 3%ers and just very right wing conservative, like, gen X men who are very antiestablishment. And I know people. There’s people in my family like that, and I’ve always been, like, I can’t – I don’t want to deal with you. But now I have to, and I definitely found it interesting and, you know, you want to know what makes people tick and so I think sometimes you’re forced to it by events. I mean, anybody that reads the comments or looks to see who reacts to – so say if you work for a news organization, and that news organization tweets out, make a column for everybody that mentions your news organization. Because the people that feel differently than you will reply to that organization. They’ll be, like, oh, that’s a load of whatever. You should check out such-and-such.

So that’s another way for me to see, like, how people, the anti. Just two ideas, I guess.

SONYA: Yeah, very good ideas.

In terms of looking for inspiration, conflict resolution practice. Not interpersonal to that too. But people who have to do something with civil wars. And if you just take that, I think that could be applicable as well. We don’t normally think of ourselves as peace makers, but we may be best positioned to do that job.

SONYA: Okay. Very good.

To add to that, facilitators. Like, facilitation practice in, like, they, like, bring people together and, like, build consensus and, like, it’s about surfacing everyone else’s conversation. Like, everyone else’s ideas in a respectful and meaningful manner, and they do it in small spaces.

SONYA: Yeah.

To answer your question, I mean, I think it’s not about following Glenn Beck or, you know, following Rush Limbaugh. It’s about people in your local community maybe that you’re missing. And so since the election, I’ve tried to do that. And I was already following, you know, I felt a good balance of people. But I added to that list – I’m a big Twitter user, so that was, you know.

So I added to that list. But then I’ve also been very deliberate about trying to interact with people more. Not just – yeah. So if – and I’m talking about the silliest – you know, someone post a baby picture, you know? So I’m not going to like somebody who says something that’s politically inflammatory that I don’t agree with; right? But on the things that are more neutral that are able to connect us as people, you know? A pretty picture, a pretty landscape picture or people sharing their family or a funny moment that they had or things like that that are universal, I’ve been trying to interact and looking for those opportunities to put a like or a reply or something.

Do you feel like you build trust with those people? Or do you not know yet?

I don’t know but at least I’m on their radar. And I think – I hope to them it’s an acknowledgment that somebody out there is paying attention. A journalist is paying attention to them.

I think also sort of a lot of times when we describe things in the news, we’re making a value judgment about that thing being good or bad. And I know it’s extremely hard to do to be extremely neutral because of course people have very different, you know, thoughts one way or the other. But when you say something like somebody’s rights, you know, that implies that that is a right that someone has; right?

SONYA: Right?

And for better or worse, some people might not agree with LGBT rights. So you could write the article in a way that says this person has this lawsuit, and they won or loss – you know what I’m saying? So I do think that that sometimes just phrasing it can sometimes be – you know, or antiabortion kind of has a connotation of, you know, that this is very anti,very – you know, I think that there are some things that feel difficult as journalists to not describe it because for better or worse, we have a very strong opinion one way or the other. And it’s kind of hard to take that out of that.

SONYA: Yeah.

Which I think is sort of the issue a lot of times.

SONYA: I heard both of you guys. It sounds like sometimes we bubble people to one dimension. So you’re antiabortion, or you support Trump or, you know, you’re a climate change denier. So you’re one dimension for that one variable, I dislike you, and I – that’s my judgment. But actually, people have different dimensions. People do all kinds of good things.

I really like what you said about kind of interacting with people you wouldn’t typically interact with because when I used to report for a local metro, I would go out and people – if I was writing a story, for example, for guns, they would be, oh, you work for that liberal rag. You must not agree with the gun laws we have in the state. And just kind of they had a preconceived notion of me too as a journalist. Well, you work for that publication, it’s a liberal – we think it’s liberal, its editorial board, leans to the left. And so that kind of back and forth is actually good for kind of breaking down the preconceptions on both sides of the equation.

Yeah. That’s right.

You say no. I have a gun.

No. Because that’s not true. But I did fire one because I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was going to give them a fair chance. They’re, like, do you want to fire a gun? And I was, like, sure.

SONYA: Yeah, any other thoughts?

I think it also, like, do you know people, and you hang out with people who are not journalists? And do you know people who didn’t go to college? Because the majority of the country did not go to a four-year college. And are you talking to people in your families who like political views that you don’t agree with? And how much do you separate yourself from what is normal for other people? Like, I’m not going to college, working, like, 70 hours of week, like, not making rent. How exposed are you to that personally? Not just with your sources but – I think I, like, try to always remind myself that, like, the life I live is kind of not normal. Like, traveling, coming to conferences, like, a lot of people that I grew up with don’t understand what that is or that this is work and, like, keeping that in mind when I’m reporting stuff.

SONYA: That’s a very good point.

Also, I feel like we get lazy, and there’s so many – well, I used to do this little thing when I just started the newspaper. And they have a question of the week; right? And it’s, like, how do you feel about gas prices rising?

So you have to find four people in the public; right? To talk about rising gas prices. Well, when you cover the suburbs, like, what is – you can’t just stand on the side of the road, so I go into Walmart, and then I get kicked out of Walmart, and then I’m, like, no, you don’t understand I’m doing a story.

But now on Twitter, you can be, like, what’s your favorite color? And everyone on Twitter has a – you know what I’m saying? We know that Twitter is a terrible reflection of America. Most Americans are not on Twitter.

Journalists are but not most Americans.

Exactly. Most people hate Twitter because all the trolls are on Twitter. And we tend to think of it – because it’s such an easy to find something. Someone who has any opinion, we find it to reflect that slice of America, even though we know –

SONYA: Yeah, it’s a good point. Convenient example from Twitter is so convenient that is even not representative.

So, yeah, any other thoughts?

Yeah, I heard you guys. This is – definitely, we are humans as well. And after all, publishing is a for profit business; right? So you have to care about the bottom line.

So now we’ll have some exercise. But before that, I’ll introduce lessons from other disciplines. We could adopt and also adapt them, you know? For our own use. So we will focus on four dimensions. Message, audience, channel, and storytelling, you know? Just now we mentioned that we may advocate something. We may have a strong belief. And if you believe that, people should take that position as well. That’s being your message. And then you form different groups, and then you pick a message that you want to deliver. And then which group of people you want to reach; right?

Say, I think it’s very important to think about renewable energy. And then you don’t necessarily target environmental activists because they’re already on your side. You don’t need to target them. Target someone else. And channel, for instance, just now I mentioned that if you want to correct the inauguration size of Trump, you may not reach the people you want to reach through your publication or your radio station or your TV station. So where would you catch those people? And the storytelling. Just now we talk about the language, we talk about judgmental language.

So would you take back a little bit? He’s more neutral or more well coming language to reach the audience you wanted?

So there are some interesting examples. This is just simply pictures from New York subway. And then you see a lot, a lot of them. I haven’t seen, you know – almost every day I will see a new picture. So this is an exchanges of Second Avenue subway, and it’s a very big project. You could imagine that you have noise, you have dirt, and then sometimes some subway doesn’t run, and it’s inconvenient.

But when you look at those people, they are so happy and, you know, you cover almost all groups of people, you know? Not only small business owners like hair salon but also a butcher and even a zen master. And then they will cover Mexican restaurant owners, black and white people, old people, young people, you know? Young family with kids. All kinds of people. And then the single message is they’re very, very happy. And they super support this project. And then the channel is they’re all posters on the train.

So imagine that the project you will run for several years. And you imagine those spots. How many dollars the city actually spends in order to run this campaign; right? But they may think it’s worth it. Think about it’s a several-year project. If one day people say, hey, it’s so noisy in my neighborhood, let’s get together and strike. Let’s stop it.

So rather than, you know, building 20 more stations, you may just build up two stations. So this is kind of a long-term campaign in order to keep people on the same side.

You know, think about other messages you want to deliver. Would you like to take people onboard for your campaign?

And this is another one. So this is a campaign during the 1920s. It’s called torches of freedom. So back then, tobacco companies tried to target women so that they would buy more cigarettes. And then their technique was to target a leader first because they will find feminist celebrities, movie stars. And back then, smoking was a social taboo; right? So – but at the same time, there was a women’s rights movement. So there’s this conflict intention here.

So it’s actually run by the father of public relations. So this feminist Ruth Hale and ask her to smoke on the street during a protest. And then someone to take a photo of her making sure she looks right and cool and a appropriate feminist. And then the message and image was circulated in the country also around the world. So increased sales of cigarettes, especially for women.

But the backdrop is back then the scientific research hadn’t been advanced to that point that, say, a smoking is really bad for you. So back then, it’s okay. And so it’s kind of like you make – you take the right of this movement, and then you blend in your message, and your initiative into it.

So here we see the channel is mass media, and the message is cool to smoke. And then the technique is to target a leader first. And then this woman together with other celebrities will sway a lot of women to start smoking.

If you are interested in this topic, I would recommend something. The first one is thinking fast and slow. And then one chapter is why we would stereotype people or make a very quick judgment. Simply because generally, we are cognitive minders. That is, we save a lot of energy for the future. Because you never know what’s going to happen. You always have to save some energy for unpredictable situations. That’s why generally we don’t pay attention. It doesn’t mean that people are dumb, simply because people don’t pay attention.

So think about how to engage people. So I call that flawed mind. That’s why we would stereotype people.

And then another book by Bernays is crystallizing public opinion. He shows you that people can change your mind. For instance, smoking, for instance, you support the subway expansion because mind is so malleable. You can change people’s mind. But still, it’s very hard because mind is persistent. The third book is the social construction of reality. It’s about how we form our world view, you know? How we see this world through our lens.

First when we were a kid, we were vulnerable. We only took opinions from our caregivers. So generally, we wouldn’t question those beliefs; right? Say if my father is very conservative, I grew up very conservative. If he was very religious, I grew up religious. So that’s my belief, and I wouldn’t question this things.

But later, we will go to school and work, so then the beliefs are swayed and shaken by teachers, by your peers, by other professionals. So that’s a second time, so you will change, you will start to think, you will start to question some beliefs and say really? Is this really the case? And yesterday I shared my own story. Because my dad had very bad experience with sports fans, so I really looked down upon those people. So when I grew up, I didn’t like to hang out with people who watch a lot of sports.

But after I went to college, I realized, you know, it’s fun to watch sports. It’s not that bad. So it’s kind of, like, you know, sometimes you change your mind. No matter big or small. Even, say, your diet, you know, your political belief, your religious belief, many things could change. But still is very hard because it’s persistent.

So here comes the exercise. Suppose you land in another filter bubble full of despisers and disbelievers. How would you even start a conversation? Would you start the conversation by saying “I think you’re an idiot. Listen to me.

Let’s think about it. And then how would you deliver a message either politically or economical complicated. Only weak snowflakes who want weak dollars. I think strong dollars are better dollars. Or you think we don’t want to owe any debts to China because it’s a really bad deal. And then how would you convince people? You can say “Imagine that you take an onion from the corner store today without paying. Next day you take a can of Coke and then third day you take soap bar without paying. That’s a bad deal.”

So you can imagine some story that’s very accessible so that you can start people’s thinking process. So that’s the message.

And then the channel. As I’ve repeated mention, it’s very hard to reach a group of people; right? You know, simply because we’re in this bubble, and they’re in that bubble. So where would you reach them? In the park? You would have some budget to have a campaign, on the bus, on the train? Maybe even local grocery stores, at the entrance to the park, bike shops, if you want to reach special group of people. And then what kind of message? What medium you would use?

Also, you imagine on Facebook, theoretically you can reach billions and billions of people. But the problem is Facebook has – so that everybody would have their preferred content shown in their news feed. For instance, I follow all kinds of publications, and then I share stories from Fox News and Breitbart. But I realize they never get any reactions from my friends. So I imagine they are never shown in their news feeds. And then what would you do if that channel, you know, has all kinds of barriers for you to reach people? Also, even on YouTube because of the recommendation algorithms will block you from a special group of people.

So you may have some opportunities. Yesterday, I talked to people working with Facebook as one way to do it is pay Facebook to override. That’s one way to do it. If you really want to target a special group of people. And so there is something to think about.

Okay. So we will form groups, you know? If you want to consolidate two people as well. So we have four things to think about. Message. You know, think about a message you want to deliver. There’s a position. You say we should do this. Or we should not do this. And then who do you want to sway? Who’s your audience? And then the channel. No matter online, offline, you know, meet-ups, whatever. Use your imagination. And then what kind of story you will tell to them; right? So imagine that I will make it as simple as possible. I will make it emotional. I will lay out facts or facts from work, so I should target opinionator and then sway those people, so just think about the message as well. And then we have 20 minutes.

So do you want to consolidate? Cool.

SONYA: We have five minutes. Let’s wrap up a little bit.

So two minutes. Let’s wrap up a little bit.

Okay. Whatever we get, it must be really good. So we have only four groups. Definitely, we have plenty of time to present. You can cover all the four dimensions. We hope to. I know so you could even share something like the challenges and especially difficult part during the discussion. You can also share that experience with us.

Okay. So which group wants to go first? yes?

So we talk about how to convey H2B visas – I’m not sure if I got that language right. But visas for international workers are necessary. And to sort of, like, abroad if you’re in a community of residents, and we talked about doing, like, maybe a series of forums where you have – invite the community and have, like, business owners that need those visas, some of the visa holders themselves, and maybe people who are from anti-immigrant groups and having a sort of moderator to have a conversation among those people and among the community. Because you need to communicate to people there are real human beings involved all the way around, including business people who may provide a service to you, the resident.

And, you know, there are real people who need these jobs. So –

SONYA: Okay. Great. So the message is we need foreign workers and the audience would be, especially those immigration people. And the channel would be offline meet up, like, forums. Through conversations. And then would you have a special dimension or angle you would use? So this two group –

I think you would try to find somebody who’s a professional at mediation and sort of managing conversations.

SONYA: Okay. So which part do you think is the most difficult part?


SONYA: Yeah.

I personally think the channel is the most difficult part.

And I think even, if you were going to have an IRL community meeting, just getting people to come out to things like that, I think is really difficult. But I think it’s a more effective way of getting people to listen.

SONYA: Yes, they talk in person rather than online. Or try some foods from other countries, at least the food is good around the world. So, yeah. Excellent. Okay. So this is about a political issue. Do we have other topics?

We’ll go. So we’re the horse meat counsel of America. That eating horse meat is okay. So we said the audience we want to go after are meat eaters, obviously. Who are interested in sustainability. And sort of adventurous, trend-setter types.

We thought channel is probably the most difficult thing. I’ll come back to that in a second. So for storytelling, we thought we need to find a person who’s an animal lover, potentially a person who’s, like, bread horses and eats her own horses herself. So she’s going to be our token person that we’re going to push in a publication like the Wall Street Journal or something to do this story about the business sense of it and the sustainability of it and how we’re going to expand it in America. At the same time, we’re going to sponsor a segment on the food network to sort of give people recipes to use with horse meat.

SONYA: That’s excellent. So why do you think the channel part is the most difficult?

Just getting journal to write a story like that. How – you know; right?

Yeah. And just, like, I think there’s probably multiple places. So, like, how do we really know where we get the biggest bang for our buck in terms of reaching the people we want to reach? And getting the most eyeballs on it.

Sessions at Whole Foods and –

That’s on our list.


And then the journalism is picking up on the story.

Right. So that’s the question. Do we do Whole Foods first or the journal first? Maybe – I don’t know how you sequence all of that stuff.

It’s complicated.

It is complicated.

SONYA: Yeah, but sometimes when there’s a event, generally, reporters will follow that event. You don’t even need to invite them. They will call you. And then actually, that’s an interesting story. There’s a program on Netflix called cooked. So one episode is about pig. So actually there’s a woman who keeps a lot of pigs and treat them with, you know, very human way. And then at the end of the day, she will send the pigs to the slaughterhouse herself and say okay. Pigs, you had a good life.

Okay. Next. This is kind of a cultural story. Very in this case. Yes?

I don’t think we really finished everything. But then – so, like, the topic was gun safety because gun control and gun rights are already very charged. It already sets the scene of what side you’re on. So Jonathan said –

Yeah. So there are problems, like, deaths from guns in America where just the words we use to describe them already for lack of a better language, trigger a lot of people; right? And so I’ve heard people try to develop the word gun safety as a language for describing this problem that is not deeply associated with one side of the political spectrum or another. How was that?


All right.

So it’s something that everyone cares about. Everyone agrees on safety. And then that’s kind of, like, the – I don’t think we really decided on – did we decide on the rest?

I think we spent a lot of time talking about framing and this problem of, like, what actually, like, we were embedding in the message when we were – and then also, we were talking about audience and how we would – there’s a real need for reaching out to people to, like, find the audience and find a message that they’re receptive to. So we were talking about going to gun shows was one of the suggestion and doing – what would it amount to? Like, it reminds me of reading about the – just testing the message over and over again before we really figured out what the actual message was. So we may have gotten stuck at step one and started moving into step two.

SONYA: Okay.

And channel and storytelling. So you want to – so the technique you want to use is to change the language to avoid loaded words. You want kind of more neutral word. And then maybe both people would be onboard starting the conversation.

Yeah. So also talking about on the theme of gun safety, exploring ways to enhance gun safety. Like, one of the ideas was community policing, which I didn’t know. But apparently also has its problems with the left. So there’s a lot of challenges to figuring out what a good story would be that everyone can agree on.

SONYA: I didn’t know either. Definitely, I’m in my own bubble. So I didn’t know there was a problem with it.

Definitely, language matters. There’s another example from the book. During the war, I forgot the first or Second World War. But the public complain about how injured soldiers were treated because they were treated in hospital but, you know, several hours after surgery, they would be released to elsewhere. And then people say how could you just give such horrible treatment to our heroes?

And they realize actually, they just need kind of ER treatments. And then it’s best for them to move on to another place to take a rest.

So they changed the treatment from hospital to something like relay stop or something to change your conception and occupation that it’s not hospitalization, you know? You only need a few hours or a few days. So you change the concept. But then, you know, you kind of, like, calm down the people and help stop the argument.

Yeah, very good. Okay.

Well, we are still talking about the message. We sort of have navigated through a – exactly what the message is. We had talked about covering police shootings, for instance, which is a really charged, obviously, topic that has stemmatic questions, it has filter questions, it has questions of safety and all of these things.

And so we were trying to figure out how to kind of reach some sort of common understanding of what’s happening so that involves, like, both facts. And also, empathy for each other’s experiences on the money sides of the story like this.

So that’s where we were sort of trying to, like, well, is it about – we hadn’t really come to whether or not it was about a message to the people who would talk to us as journalists and help us then better the story. Or if it was messaging to our communities, our audiences, and that sort of thing. That’s sort of where we – we stopped. It was a great –

Yeah. That’s good.

Days, I think.

Right. So it’s definitely a very hard question to tackle this why, you know? Because those four dimensions are actually intertwined with each other. The channel would lead you to a special audience; right? So you have to – and then by the audience, so you know kind of what channel would work. And also storytelling. What kinds of stories they would like to listen to; right? So they’re all kind of related to each other. Is – once you figure out one aspect, maybe other aspects will just come out naturally. Yeah? Okay.

So any questions or thoughts about the session? And so are there any, you know, things you want to share, you know? Maybe you want to – you’re more about one aspect or something or do you think is hopeful or hopeless to address and tackle this problem. Would there be some kind of how do you say? Resistance, actually. Resistance would come from newsrooms from inside a newsroom. Yes?

One thing I talked a little bit in our conversation, and I picked up from others is that these filter bubbles are not necessarily partisan, and I think we’re so quick to just be like it, oh, it’s right and left. It’s conservative and liberal. But they’re not. Police violence, that is not a partisan issue.

So, like, we need to be cognizant of the fact that these things are affecting other realms besides political coverage.

SONYA: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah.

So anything could be comfortable. Even dog food.

I was going to make a plug. Maybe the people in this room might be interested in a session that I’m going to lead during lunchtime, and it will be in this room.

Just talking about what is journalism’s impact, how do we measure it? And do we need to rethink that?

SONYA: Excellent.

So thank you very much. And this is my e-mail address.

Thank you.