Posted by: sweadickblog | December 5, 2016

My New Click Bait: Social Innovation

After all of our research on social innovation, classmate Alexa Morris and I both had a similar experience on the internet. We had a new “click bait” article come across our news feeds: “Donald Trump: Herald for Social Innovation” from My idealistic side did not want to equate social innovation with Trump in any fashion, but I had to click it. I quickly learned that the article was angling more toward social innovation and seemed to use Trump and the awakening of the divisions in America as a wrapper.

Social innovation offers the next wave of opportunity for corporations to address society’s largest problems, while adding to their bottom line. Corporate social innovation (CSI) is all about transparency of intent to improve society in a way that aligns with the business’ core competencies and is a benefit to shareholders and consumers alike. The next generation is pushing CSI forward and believes that their role in society is to create change and lasting impact on the world’s largest problems.


A visual look at CSI from KPMG Social Innovation Report, FY14.

I hesitate to write the word because I know the “algorithm” is going to be coming for me, but it’s true, Millennials “don’t just want to merely do good; they want to solve world problems” (Saul, 2011, p. 98).


Posted by: Keegan Clements-Housser | December 5, 2016

The Case for (Dishonest) Communcations


In his article “The Case for Communications” published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Sean Gibbons makes a strong case for the importance of communications in non-profits and foundations.

He points out that organizations that are particularly good at communication, especially new communication that is primarily spread on a grass-roots level, tend to be much more effective at accomplishing their missions. One example he cites is the social media uproar that happened after the poaching of Cecil the lion,  a campaign started, managed, and encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund. According to Gibbons, their efforts increased media coverage of illegal poaching by 270 percent. It’s undeniably an impressive number.

So what happens when a non-profit or foundation puts forward a communication strategy that actively presents falsehoods as truth? A particularly noteworthy example would be the National Rifle Association (NRA). A quick check of their PolitiFact profile reveals that far more of their public claims are false than true. There have been several extensive articles by a multitude of publications documenting their misinformation campaigns. The narrative they weave is objectively false and misleading. Yet it cannot be denied that it’s a very successful strategy, and the NRA’s rhetoric shapes the political views of millions of members.

Gibbons is right—communication strategies are incredibly potent tools. It can be used to tackle important, critical challenges faced by humanity; or, it can be used to spread fear and misinformation. Media professionals take note, lest we remain complacent or worse: fall into the same trap.

Posted by: laurahaneyjackson | December 5, 2016

Information Laundering


After spending hours on the internet researching Political Satire as a topic for our final white paper of the year, and poring through multiple scholarly journals and news pieces about the role of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report in the field of journalism, it’s only appropriate that the algorithm of the internet dropped a new piece, about none other than Jon Stewart, into my Facebook news feed. Even more fitting was the theme of the piece— fake news.

In the article, Stewart contends that the media has become an “information laundering system” in which news from unverified sources is making its way into the mainstream. He goes on to point out that media outlets are utilizing second-hand reporting, and in some cases, using blogs from unknown credibility in order to source an article. Within the final published piece, the author may ultimately opt to not cite the source due to its questionable credibility. Because the mainstream media subsequently covers the story, it thus becomes true in the eyes of the viewer. As the ever-reliable media critic, Stewart also criticizes the media for obsessively updating viewers on micro or incremental news updates, pointing out that the move to update undermines its editorial authority.

In an effort to do my part to counteract the information laundering cycle, the article was published on Quartz (, and the author appears to have a legitimate byline and depth of experience.


Posted by: Alexa Morris | December 2, 2016

Facebook LIVE is a powerful tool

Facebook LIVE exposed my digital social capital in a way I never expected. I didn’t realize people I don’t talk to anymore are still interested in what I am doing. Take a look at bridging and bonding social capital as people stay connected with members of previous communities (high school, college, jobs) and maintain social capital (Ellison et al., 2007).

On November 16, 2016 I posted my first Facebook LIVE video. I sat in my car, held my phone in front of my face and talked about a Rotary meeting I just spoke at, where I thanked them for sponsoring me to attend RYLA in July.

About 2 minutes into my video I began to cry, because I realized how much had changed since July: “I was so anxious about going to grad school…I’m tearing up and I’m LIVE on Facebook…Now I’m in school, which I was really concerned about in July…and the reality is I had nothing to worry about because school has been so good.”
Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 11.24.17 AM.png

I had 79 likes and 30 encouraging comments on this video from “friends” from all walks of my life. Two friends who I hadn’t talked to in a couple years called me and said how much they could relate to my video and shared how far they have come since college. Facebook LIVE has highlighted my weak ties (Putnam, 2000) and has prompted me to post more Facebook LIVE videos, because it increases my social capital and I enjoy reconnecting with friends.

Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007) The benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Student’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 12 (4), 1143 – 1168.

Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | November 30, 2016

Following the fake news trail

fake news map.png

Again, as we were talking about in class on Monday night, up comes a great bit of content to address the issue of fake news. Think about your role in potentially spreading it!

What a Map of the Fake-News Ecosystem Says About the Problem


Posted by: marlenebarbera | November 29, 2016

Toward an Ideal of Participatory Journalism

Lewis, Holton and Coddington, lay out a case for a journalism framed by reciprocal relationshipse that create a way to explore the realm of reciprocity in journalism, in  Reciprocal Journalism.

 Reciprocal journalism  points to the unrealized potential for a participatory journalism that has mutual benefit in mind, that is not merely fashioned to suit a news organization’s interests but also takes citizens’ concerns to heart.

I have personally watched this play out on my alma mater’s alumni created facebook page which was infiltrated by current students deriding alumni perspectives as insufficiently ‘woke’ in common parlance. Alumni responded with ire, experiencing the students as disrespectful, also critiquing their arguments. Students were outraged that their ideas had met resistance of any kind. Massive quarrelling, spiderman meme-bombing and discord ensued. But- reciprocity played a role here as did time and community. As the controversy roiled, alumni invoked a request to hear one another out with a presumption of good faith, and a willingness to listen to one another. This did not produce immediate miracles. All grew quite heated and emphatic, people were blocked and unblocked, friended and unfriended.  Over time, many of the people I disagreed with most emphatically have become friends whose views I seek out and use to test out my own fledgling theories. It was messy, complicated and many people were not satisfied but the group keeps growing, tolerating one another on the merits of arguments presented. Something similar may be possible across the internet, if people can be both encouraged to express themselves and also to listen to one another with good faith arguments and plenty of supportive evidence.

Nov 28, 2016, Jack Shafer of Politico, in response to Donald Trump’s latest, ‘100-megaton stink bomb’ as he characterizes the President Elect’s latest twitter rampage regarding ‘millions of illegal ballots’ cast for Clinton, suggests some new rules for responding to Trump. To counter Trump’s tendency to toss off provocations to divert attention and discussion from damaging stories, for example, the exhaustive New York Times piece about his numerous business conflicts of interests and the complications they pose for his presidency.

The rules include a suggestion to not leap to the bait, consider that Trump tweets have a loyal following disinterested in objective reality and that this will only alter as his promises to return jobs, to drain the swamp of special interests and to eliminate competition in the form of immigrants and trade deals, fail to materialize into actual policies benefiting his supporters.

His second point contains an answer at least as far as the responsibility of journalism lies, to The Shallows, it is worth quoting in full,

Yes, Trump trolls us, especially the press. We shouldn’t take his bait, but that’s not the same as ignoring him. The context in which the press adresses his tweets is paramount: If Trump makes an unsupported claim as he did on Twitter yesterday, it is news; but the news is not the claim but the fact that he’s advancing a wildly unfounded claim. That point belongs in the headline, the first sentence of the first paragraph, and elsewhere in the piece. Always pair the latest Trump deception with the news story he’s deflecting attention away from. Feel free to qualify Trump’s thrust by writing something like “in an apparent attempt to bury negative news about his recent proposal” when he tweets his cockamamie best.

Posted by: marlenebarbera | November 28, 2016

Surfing, Skimming, and Scanning, Oh My!

distraction-age-teenNicholas Carr’s, The Shallows, claims that the Internet is a medium based on interruption and has lead to a change in the way people read and process information.  In, This Is Your Brain Online, NPR’s All Things Considered, asks, if we’ve come to associate the acquisition of wisdom with deep reading and solitary concentration, what are we to make of Carr’s position that this is not found online?

As a lifelong solitary deep reader, I find Carr credible, with limitations. Often, online, I find myself in rather a frenzy to get to the bottom of a story, chasing links, desperately searching for, The Answer, or irrefutable proof. These cannot be found in isolation.  The internet stands accused of having rendered us all shallow without a concomitant project of undoing the shallowness or even answering it. The problem is that you cannot answer shallowness with profundity. Most people, engaged in their own lives, have no interest in deep analysis of cultural events or political shenanigans. I see no path in which you can force people to delve deeply. We have always been in the Shallows, this is not new. What is new is being able to measure exactly how shallow and distracted we are.

Sadly, we are now all trying to win the spin game and get the message across. Slow contemplative thinking, much revered by Carr, is not everyone’s cup of tea. The future likely belongs to whoever best captures the fractured attention and rampant imagination of our electorate.

Posted by: sweadickblog | November 28, 2016

Engaging Social Capital on Facebook


In 2008, I began my first fundraising and running journey for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). I remember the idea of a “social” fundraising effort by engaging my Facebook community wasn’t just scary, it sounded as stupid to me as running my first marathon. I had no business running a marathon, so I didn’t want to share that with my world, and did anyone even know what leukemia or lymphoma was or why they (or I) should care?

I have learned that people do want to support you and that I can engage my Facebook network to raise thousands of dollars for charity every year. I can use Facebook in many different ways and know that some are supportive of my passions, some respect my commitment to volunteering and fundraising for research and cures for others, some donate because they have a connection to blood cancer, and many are just pretty amazed that I undertake this incredibly hard effort of finishing 26.2 miles, again and again.

In the field of communications, “social capital has often been operationalized as psychometric measures of perceived access to resources derived from one’s social connections” (Ellison, Vitak, Gray, & Lampe, 2014). Using Facebook for fundraising is not a new idea, but have you ever tried monetizing the social capital of your Facebook network or learning about a charity someone in your social circle supports? This week is Giving Tuesday, maybe it’s time to check out the positive energy and fundraising power of your Facebook community.

Posted by: timiracobbs | November 28, 2016

Communication Can Move Mountains (or 10,000 pound boulders)

Aaron Belkin, director of an advocacy think tank, was one of the masterminds behind the dismantling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Using a strategic combination of counter-narrative and iteration, Belkin and his partners got rid of what he called the 10,000 pound boulder in the middle of the road to repeal: entrenched belief.

Belkin realized that the “gays as victims of oppression” narrative was not working to reverse the public opinion that “gays in the military compromised unit cohesion” or hurt the military – a narrative that showed up repeatedly despite countless research articles supporting the contrary. Belkin and his team decided to use a direct counter-narrative: “Gays don’t hurt the military, discrimination does.”

Belkin says they watched the news cycle closely for opportunities to insert their narrative along with existing research in order to obtain media coverage (like this New York Times article about a shortage of Arabic linguists compromising military intelligence after a round of discharges under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell). By doing this over and over, the steady drip of timely examples of government waste and blatant hypocrisy ultimately reversed public opinion on gays in the military.

Another key part to their strategy? Patience.

Belkin and his team reiterated their counter-narrative for 10 years before the policy was repealed in 2011, allowing openly gay members to serve side by side with their comrades to protect and defend their country as one.



Belkin, A., & Gibbons, S. (2016, April 6). Dismantling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (SSIR). Retrieved November 28, 2016, from

Frank, N. (2009). ‘Unfriendly Fire’. Retrieved November 28, 2016, from

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