July 6, 2017 37th and O

Has the 2016 Election Changed American Politics Forever (or at Least for a Generation)?


by Team Tony: Jack Dobkin, Sophie Donnelly, Sonali Mirpuri, August Iorio, and Marshall Feingold

*This is one in a series of "Hackathon" projects that Student Strategy Team members put together throughout the course of the 2016-2017 school year.  

The Problem: A polarized world with media bias as a catalyst

The Solution: Looking to break through the established bias of opinion and educate the public

Date: April 21, 2017

Exposition

Professor of Sociology at Stanford University Rob Willer encourages us to listen and talk to each other in a more productive way if we ever want to break the barrier of partisan politics.  However, that is becoming more difficult to do.  Now more than ever, Americans are more distrusting of the media and are more beholden to their newsroom of choice.  The result is the unfortunate polarization of American politics and a divided public on key issues shaping our society.  If there is one thing we don’t like about politics, it’s the ever increasing groupthink mentality perpetuated by media outlets through bias on the issues.  For average Americans, breaking through this tainted stream of news can be a beginning step towards understanding the issues in a more pure form.  Students who follow their preferred social media accounts and average voters who are dedicated to their preferred news source are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle of media bias.  If we ever want to engage voters to understand the bias found in media and to begin exploring other opinions, then we need to provide a simple resource for people to start recognizing bias in the media.

In response to this persisting issue, we decided that an awareness campaign regarding political bias in the media would be the best way to successfully enact change.  We decided that a printed media bias publication would be the most effective way of reaching our audience on a different level.  Here on the Hilltop, one monthly publication has capitalized on a captivated audience to great success.  This publication is the The Stall Seat Journal.  By placing a fun, easily-understandable media bias identification guide in the stalls of campus bathrooms, everyone can learn how to identify media bias when they are scrolling down their news feed.

Among other benefits, we think that one of the strengths of our publication is that it is a simplistically realistic solution to address the problem of recognizing media biases. The Bias Bugle would be a student-run production that operates as a newsletter. The first edition was produced on the graphic editing/design platform Canva.  Research will be done on the content of each edition on how to combat biases in relation to what is in the news that week or month.  Production will occur on a bi-weekly schedule to constantly be updated with recent news events.  In this way, readers can be excited by and exposed to new topics with each new edition, but at the same time have ample time to be confronted with the idea multiple times.

The format of The Bias Bugle as mentioned above, allows readers to interact and engage with the product.  When confronted with these topics, the The Bias Bugle is afforded with a high visibility given the environment that it is in.  Finally, the exposure of varied topics is major asset and where the longevity of the product comes in.  As shown with the first edition, we’ve done an introduction to some of the topics that may be reviewed in the future.  However, with each succeeding edition, the product will focus on one topic of media bias, going in-depth with each topic.  For instance, various topics will be portrayed such as photograph or headline selection,

Canva was used to engage a vibrant graphic design software that was utilized over the course of the semester designing posters to publicise Tony’s weekly discussion groups. Our aim was to mimic the engaging and informative modular style of The Stall Seat Journal, which breaks up the topic under discussion into small, easy-to-read segments, and that may take the form of block text, lists, and graphics.  Staying consistent with other GU Politics publications (and for the sake of school pride!) was an important part of increasing brand recognition of the product.  So, we chose a blue and grey colour palette, signifying the Georgetown foundation of this publication.  Lastly, we made a conscious effort to pitch the tone of this poster as friendly and readable, while avoiding language that might be partisan or perceived as condescending to our student readership.

Some may wish that The Bias Bugle runs itself out of production. However, we firmly believe that ideas such as these need to maintain production so long as these biases run rampant and unchecked in society - and there seems little prospect for that changing given today’s political environment.

The Student Strategy Team of Jack Dobkin, Sophie Donnelly, Sonali Mirpuri, August Iorio, and Marshall Feingold were advised by Tony Sayegh, Fox News Contributor; EVP, Jamestown Associates — Trump/Pence 2016 Media Consultants, and GU Politics Spring 2017 Fellow.

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