connective democracy

Our society is witnessing an entrenchment of divisiveness – the media versus the public, Democrats versus Republicans, urban versus rural. Whether political or social, the divisions in our society seem to be growing swiftly and aggressively. And with these divides come new challenges in facilitating the exchange of information. The Center for Media Engagement proposes a new approach to tackling the issue: connective democracy.

Connective democracy unites newsrooms, scholars, platforms, and public policy entities in a methodical approach toward bridging gaps in our society. We believe that, by working together, these groups can identify and put into action practical solutions to help bring people together across divides.

More than a theory, connective democracy depends on collaborative work throughout the research process, spanning idea generation, study design, data collection, the interpretation of findings, the sharing of results, and the leveraging of findings to affect practice.

Whether political or social, the divisions in our society seem to be growing swiftly and aggressively. And with these divides come new challenges in facilitating the exchange of information. The Center for Media Engagement proposes a new approach to tackling the issue: connective democracy.

Newsroom Resources

5 Ways to Connect with Local Communities

September 15, 2021

Five strategies for connecting with local communities that come directly from speaking with people who feel the media can do better to reach them. Read More
5 Ways to Connect with Local Communities

Helping Audiences Find Common Ground

October 9, 2020

Political divides are pushing coworkers, friends, and families apart. Newsrooms can help people find common ground by sharing these strategies for approaching difficult discussions. Read More
Helping Audiences Find Common Ground

Making Political Points with Humility Can Bridge D...

February 1, 2022

We found that humility can help people bridge divides, making it a useful approach for news organizations looking to uplift content or comments that build bridges. Read More
Making Political Points with Humility Can Bridge Divides

A Better Way to Tell Protest Stories

December 1, 2021

To help journalists frame stories in ways that do not marginalize certain groups, the Center for Media Engagement tested several approaches to protest coverage. Read More
A Better Way to Tell Protest Stories

How Newsrooms Can Help Bridge Divides: Lessons fro...

July 8, 2021

Learn from a panel of experts on how newsrooms can better understand their communities and humanize those with diverse views by using the principles of connective democracy. Read More
How Newsrooms Can Help Bridge Divides: Lessons from SXSW 2021

How Newsrooms Can Help Unite a Divided America

February 7, 2019

Bringing opposing groups together is a challenge, but it’s an important task the media needs to take on. Read More
How Newsrooms Can Help Unite a Divided America

Bridging Divides Between Conservatives and Media

October 15, 2021

Discussions with participants in this Center for Media Engagement study helped identify six approaches journalists can take to better connect with their conservative audiences. Read More
Bridging Divides Between Conservatives and Media

SXSW Panel

Our country is faced with a multitude of divides – political, social, geographic, and economical. Bridging these divides is a long and difficult undertaking, but newsrooms can play a critical role in the process. In a panel presented at SXSW 2021, the Center for Media Engagement convened a group of experts to help newsrooms better understand their communities and humanize those with diverse views by using the principles of connective democracy. The discussion focused on answering three questions:

  1. How can newsrooms approach a coverage plan that focuses on what people share in common and presents diverse viewpoints?
  2. How can newsrooms frame stories in ways that offer people the news they need?
  3. How can newsrooms use social media to connect people to their newsroom and their community?

Panelists:

Gina M. Masullo, Associate Director, Center for Media Engagement
Erica Anderson, Engagement Journalist and Moderator, Spaceship Media
Alicia Bell, Organizing Manager, Free Press

Research

Understanding Election Fraud Beliefs: Interviews ...

June 9, 2022

The Center for Media Engagement interviewed 56 people who believed that Donald Trump most likely won the 2020 presidential election to talk about their political outlooks, how they constructed their…
Understanding Election Fraud Beliefs: Interviews with People Who Think Trump Likely Won the 2020 Election

Bridging Political Divides with Facebook Memes

April 28, 2022

Previous research by the Center for Media Engagement found that a sense of common humanity – where people recognize that their own failings are common human experiences – can help…
Bridging Political Divides with Facebook Memes

Making Your Political Point Online Without Driving...

December 15, 2021

The Center for Media Engagement tested a tool that makes digital conversations across divides easier: expressing humility when sharing a political opinion. The results showed that writing online posts with…
Making Your Political Point Online Without Driving People Away

A Better Way to Tell Protest Stories

October 28, 2021

Protest coverage often casts protesters and their causes in a negative light, particularly when covering underrepresented groups. To help journalists frame stories in ways that do not harm these groups,…
A Better Way to Tell Protest Stories

How Local Newsrooms Can Better Connect with Conser...

August 16, 2021

The Center for Media Engagement partnered with Trusting News and 27 local newsrooms to investigate how news organizations can help bridge the divide between the media and American conservative and…
How Local Newsrooms Can Better Connect with Conservative and Right-Leaning Audiences

Communicating Science Across Political Divides

August 4, 2021

The Center for Media Engagement asked U.S. citizens about their expectations related to how scientists communicate with them. Read More
Communicating Science Across Political Divides

How to Connect with Disinvested Local News Audienc...

July 7, 2021

The Center for Media Engagement partnered with the Dallas Free Press to explore how Dallas residents perceive local media and how they think that media can better serve their communities.…
How to Connect with Disinvested Local News Audiences
contentious issues

What Americans Know and Don’t Know about Con...

May 20, 2021

We asked adults about a range of hot-button issues to find out how much the American public knows about contentious political issues. Read More
What Americans Know and Don’t Know about Contentious Issues

What Americans Know and Don’t Know about Fac...

March 3, 2021

The Center for Media Engagement asked American adults to answer questions about how platforms like Facebook and Google operate. The answers we received revealed important gaps in what the American…
What Americans Know and Don’t Know about Facebook and Google

News Distrust Among Black Americans is a Fixable P...

November 18, 2020

The Center for Media Engagement asked Black Americans how news organizations can better cover their communities to help bridge the divide between them and the media. Read More
News Distrust Among Black Americans is a Fixable Problem

Being Compassionate with Yourself May Help Bridge ...

September 17, 2020

Being able to form relationships with people you disagree with or viewing them with compassion is not easy. In this study, the Center for Media Engagement wanted to find out…
Being Compassionate with Yourself May Help Bridge Political Divides

Finding Common Ground: Habits that May Help

August 30, 2020

As politics continue to push Americans further apart, it can be difficult to find common ground. The Center for Media Engagement wanted to see what habits are common in people…
Finding Common Ground: Habits that May Help

Adding Humanizing Details to News Articles Produce...

August 6, 2020

The Center for Media Engagement wanted to know whether adding humanizing details about people when reporting on controversial political issues could help bring readers together across lines of difference and…
Adding Humanizing Details to News Articles Produces Mixed Results
People Who Disagree with You Politically

How to Talk to People Who Disagree with You Politi...

July 30, 2020

How can you communicate with people you disagree with politically? This report reveals five strategies you can use. Read More
How to Talk to People Who Disagree with You Politically

Images That Generate Clicks Among Both Liberals an...

December 17, 2019

  The Center for Media Engagement partnered with ProPublica to determine if news story headlines and images can be crafted in ways that appeal to both liberals and conservatives. We…
Images That Generate Clicks Among Both Liberals and Conservatives

Making Strangers Less Strange

November 14, 2018

In the aftermath of the 2018 midterm elections, it is clear that our country is divided. This report reviews best practices from academics and journalists on how to bring diverse…
Making Strangers Less Strange