Posted by: jhager | October 9, 2017

News Engagement Day – New Walls Emerge in Germany

On New Engagement Day, I chose a story no one would have heard, a speech by the President of Germany on the anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling. The German President lamented new, invisible, walls – divides of information, income, and rural vs. urban. As in the US, Germany is questioning alternative realities between political right and left.

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I retold this story to people of different ages and degrees of familiarity. My father, a political nut, would appreciate the straight story without me piquing his interest. Using his preferred channel, email, led to a fast response; “now deep into wikipedia on modern German politics…thanks?”

I used Facebook to contact a friend, creating a preamble relating to American politics and a graphic of Donald Trump. Connection to a topic she cares about, and using images and social media, helped her engage.

The others I related this to were near strangers, my barista and a fellow bus rider. Both times I told the story orally and quickly, trying to connect to US politics. I can’t report either seemed likely to follow up, polite nods were the only feedback.

During this exercise, I changed communication styles given the context, from direct and newsy, to conversational, to tying the issue to something familiar. One method couldn’t work for all, so I changed which and how many details I related. Familiarity to me and presenting as rich text rather than orally both seemed to have an effect on how the story was received.

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