Posted by: Alex Peery | October 9, 2017

News Engagement Day: Words Have Consequences

As part of his official visit to Puerto Rico, President Trump vowed to wipe out Puerto Rico’s massive debt. This statement was walked back by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said not to take the president’s statement word for word. In the short time after Trump’s statement, one of Puerto Rico’s bonds fell to a record low 32 cents on the dollar, close to a 25 percent drop in a single day.

There are a couple of pieces of information to take away from this news story. The topic, however important, isn’t exactly thrilling. So, how do you discuss bonds and debt in a way that won’t cause the collectives eyes of the audience to glaze over?

I called my mom first to discuss, as I happen to know she has an interest in finance. I didn’t have to change much here. I led the conversation with the devalued bonds and the consequences that might cause for Puerto Rico.

I discussed this news in person with three other people, a friend, co-worker and my roommate. Without knowing their interest in the dry world of debt, I followed the Post’s direction and started discussing director Mulvaney. Saying not to take the president at his word is fascinating, especially from a White House official. Framing this story to show how words have consequences resonated more with this group.

To re-write this story, I would take the second approach and lean more on Mulvaney’s statement at the beginning. This can lead into important financial news, but could pull more readers into an important issue.

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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Almost two dozen American diplomats have suffered a mysterious “health attack” in Cuba forcing relations between the two countries to sour, according to the New York Times. I retold the story to my dad, who was born on the island, my roommate, coworker and best friend back home.

For my father, who lives in Houston and doesn’t understand computers and technology, I had to explain the story over the phone. And while he had heard a Spanish TV story or two about the issue, he was curious about learning more and asked me to send him the story via mail.

The other three people were told either in person or over the phone, and only one had heard about the issue but not too many details. With rumors of a mysterious sonic device causing harm, I think the story was easy to gain other people’s interested because of the unique nature of the story: could the Cuban government actually be responsible?

My roommate, coworker and buddy didn’t ask how to find the story, and I didn’t think to send it to them. However, I believe that sharing the story would be a pretty easy task with them. As is customary, I’ll have to use the ole postal service to share newspaper stories with my father. Later today, I plan on printing out online stories and dropping them in the mail.

Posted by: samanthastrain19 | October 9, 2017

False Information on News Engagement Day

NBC’s Facebook feed featured an article about the tech industry rushing to remove fake news in the days following the Las Vegas shooting — Google, Facebook, and Twitter all faced such challenges. The four people I chose to share with were a coworker, my mother-in-law, my son, and a friend.

The platform for both my coworker and my son was face-to-face, for my mother-in-law it was over the phone, and for my friend it was by texting. These were the most convenient ways of communicating with each individual and our typical platform for sharing information.

For both my coworker and my friend I told the story in a summary of facts type of way; there were no changes needed from the way that NBC presented the story. To make it relevant for my mother-in-law I changed the story to be told from a more sympathetic viewpoint, mostly stating things in relation to how sad it is that people will purposefully share false information following public tragedies for personal gain. To make it relevant to my son I framed the story as a bad guy versus good guy scenario and changed words like fake news and trolls to concepts he understood, like lies and people setting traps.

I think the best platform for all four people would be face-to-face. This would likely lead to an interesting group discussion, although my son may be the only exception. I believe that taking the same perspective as I did with my mother-in-law would be the mot effective way to get all four people to engage.

Posted by: Jeff Collet | October 9, 2017

Thoughts on How Media Influences Culture and Identity

When training for combat and peacekeeping operations, military organizations place a premium on optimal communication between individuals and units alike. According to U.S. Army doctrine, there are two barriers to communication: physical and psychological. The physical barriers are distance and the noise of battle. Psychological barriers include: bias, perception, stress, and so on.

In order to overcome these barriers, military organizations institute protocols to ensure that information can be delivered rapidly, intuitively relayed, and universally understood. Call signs, code words, phonetics, and acronyms are just a few examples of these protocols.

As a necessary result, the military as a culture selects for those who can function and thrive in an environment that demands such a high level of procedural discipline and attention to detail.

When we think of culture in a broader sense and the equally competitive if not combative state of media and communication generally, the tactics employed do not seem too dissimilar. Now more than ever, given the ubiquity of global reach for media entities, there is a need for mass communicators to simplify the parlance of a more diverse yet more intertwined society.

Even the most well-reasoned, carefully written, and sincere publications find themselves obligatorily trapped in a language game that oversimplifies cultural, political, and ethnic identities, and diminishes the reality of the individual. However, for the individual there is a reward system when one can readily engage in the speech of the day. These language games self-perpetuate as content influences culture and culture influences media.


Video Clip:

Two long weeks after hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump and FLOTUS visit the island to give out supplies. During Trumps visits at a relief center in San Juan, he shares supplies with the survivors by throwing paper towels in the crowd.

I shared the story with my father, my friend Brianna, my younger brother, and my brother-in-law. All very opinionated, and engage with media in different capacities.

I showed my father a video clip of the incident and prefaced it with nothing more than, “Dad, Trump finally went to Puerto Rico. This is a clip of his time there…” No more than 10 seconds after watching the clip, my father shouts out, “Bullshit!”

I sent my best friend Brianna a link to the article on NBC News. She responds instantaneously with shock and disgust. She used profanity to describe her feelings, so I chose to keep her response private.

I shared the news with my younger brother, Yosief, via Instagram. His response, “wow”. He also included an emoji to depict his mood; irritated and disgusted. His response was short but I knew that part of this was because he was tired of Trump’s shenanigans.

I showed my brother-in-law, Marion, the same clip I showed my dad. But this time, I gave more context. He watched in disbelief. He asked, “Are those T-shirts?” When I explained what he was actually throwing, he responded, “is this a joke…does he think he’s at a basketball game?”


Posted by: daniellerad | October 9, 2017

Teen Vogue: For more than teenage girls?

In a world where magazine sales are dropping off, Teen Vogue is thriving, becoming a popular source of news, reaching far beyond its teen demographic. The how and why is detailed in Business of Fashion‘s article “Transforming Conde Nast’s Problem Child.” By investing in digital and covering subjects like gender identity, political activism, and mental health, Teen Vogue’s forward-thinking relevancy is overshadowing its often criticized big-sister publication.

Coming from a family of magazine readers, I decided to share this information with three important women in my family: My granny, my mom, and my sister.

I started with my granny, who is notorious for gifting magazine subscriptions. I opted for a phone call, fearing the taboo topics covered in the article might be too much. She was interested in the idea of increasing digital content; she had never visited the websites of her favorite magazines, and liked the idea exploring the option. I emailed my mother the article, and we shared a few messages about how much the magazine has changed since I was a teenager when it mostly covered hand bags and lip gloss. My sister, who I chose to text, was familiar with Teen Vogue’s relevancy through the social media presence of Elaine Welteroth, the 30-year-old editor-in chief, who we both follow on Instagram.

All three women expressed gratitude that someone is working to create a community of informed women – the future depends on it.

Posted by: Allison Bailey | October 9, 2017

News Engagement Day: What Bullets to do Bodies

This article published back in April made a resurgence into my news sphere, after Las Vegas and on News Engagement Day. I pondered as to if I should use it, however I found myself not being able to stop thinking about it and the question it posed if seeing the visual impact of what bullets do to bodies would change gun laws, or the way in which the public perceives guns and gun violence.

My 16-year-old daughter was the first I spoke with this about. She knows how to use a gun, as my father hunts. The reality of gun violence is all too real, and among her age group is not unheard of. She was horrified by the idea of the images and believed that seeing the images would impact her peer group, but was unsure about the adult population.


Rafi Colon: Gun shot victim. Abdominal scar, was a basketball sized open wound as intestinal wounds healed

I also spoke with two female friends, both from very different backgrounds. Their responses were strikingly similar. Sadly, no. That those of us who are against gun regulations would not find these images a reason to changes laws, accessibility, etc. Lastly, I spoke with my mother, and she echoed the sentiments of both my daughter and my friends. In that, with youth yes, with those who feel as their rights are being threatened at the mention of change, no. That there was nothing that would change their minds.

I was struck by the sad reality of what each person had to say, in that at this moment in our culture there seems to be nothing, not even the image of a bullet riddled child from Newtown could sway the gun rights activists.

This week, as Spain suppressed the Catalan bid for independence, its National Court approved the United States’ request to extradite indicted United Russia party hacker Pyotr Levashov (Reuters, October 3, 2017). Given the case’s potential to shed light on Russian interference in our elections, I reached out for reactions.

My husband follows national politics and frequently consumes news on Facebook, so I retold the story to him there. His response mirrored mine:

Mark response

My 15-year-old son’s reaction was circumspect (yet astute), leading me to realize that I had perhaps used too neutral a voice.

Nathan response

Therefore, in my next retelling, I tried a more emotional emphasis. My dad is a retired attorney and Connecticut native, so I emailed him a version mentioning the Connecticut-based prosecutors. His response combined his usual humor, legal analysis, independent politics, and love of New Haven pizza).

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Finally, I shared a politically tinged version via Facebook Messenger with a liberal friend who is active on Messenger. Her granular response demonstrated that she understood and was thinking about the U.S.’s next move in the Russia investigation.

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In retrospect, I would have chosen a more familiar story that required less information to get everyone on board. I found it necessary to explain the backstory, and this made those emotional, gut reactions elusive, despite my careful choice of communication channels for each person. In the process, to make the story resonate more emotionally with each person, I learned to emphasize particular themes and take a less neutral stance than the original article did.

Posted by: denaragoble | October 9, 2017

News Engagement Day: Using News to Start Conversations

“They Survived the Las Vegas Shooting.  But They Don’t Want More Gun Control.”
Selected from Time

I chose a news story about the Las Vegas shooting which was a personal account of a survivor who still doesn’t believe in gun control.  I used this story as an opportunity to engage in conversations about gun control.

I recounted the story to my Mom (age 65), my Fiancé (age 32), a female co-worker (age 31) and a friend (age 48).  In an era where people are not verbally communicating, I told this story in person to three of these people and via e-mail to my friend that I don’t see as often.

With my co-worker, I didn’t know her political views, or how much news she reads on a daily basis.  I also sit next to her everyday so I didn’t want to present the story in an argumentative way that would create conflict.

My Mother is very liberal and well informed so I could speak freely about the article and share my opinions about gun control.  Because she is so well informed, I came armed with other stories about the same topic that she may not have seen, such as clips from Colbert or The Daily Show.  This comedy aspect also helped when sharing the story with my Fiancé.

This sort of news article and conversation is hard to have via email.  Yes, it’s an effective and fast way to communicate, but it’s hard to have follow up conversations about the article.

A key takeaway from this is that the subject matter of the story is important when deciding who you’re going to tell and how you’re going to tell it.  I was comfortable sharing this political story with people close to me but if I wanted to share it with acquaintances, I would probably do so in a less personal way such as social media.

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