What We Do
Careful listening and empathy are vital to supporting meaningful civic dialogue and easing polarization and we believe journalism is essential in that process – which ultimately strengthens our democracy. To do that right, the best journalistic values — fairness, thorough research, accuracy — must be held to now more than ever.
We go right to the heart of problematic situations by bringing people from communities in conflict – or that simply aren't communicating – together into a journalism-supported dialogue. We amplify that process by working with our news partners to tell the stories that arise organically from those conversations.
We take action
We work with media organizations and others on several different levels. We design and manage engagement conversations from the ground up; we provide design and ongoing consulting support; we provide consulting around our engagement values and methodology and project visioning.
We use Dialogue Journalism, a method we developed, to work with media companies across all platforms to support them in deepening their relationships with the communities they serve. In partnership, we design Dialogue Journalism engagements — Conversation Experiences — that start with listening and lead to content that reflects the rich experience of tackling tough issues and getting to know others as whole people. Our work is building community through audience engagement.
There are seven steps to Dialogue Journalism
1. The Build
We work with news organizations to identify communities
that aren’t talking or are in conflict and design a Conversation
Experience through which they can engage constructively.
2. The Gather
We explore with each of these communities what they
think of one another and what they would like to know
about the other.
3. The Welcome
We bring the communities together in an environment designed
to welcome people as individuals not simply as avatars of a particular
political, social or cultural position.
4. The Experience
We support an experience that revolves around the participants as much
as if not more than our aims or those of the sponsoring organizations;
it is a rare opportunity to engage deeply with others with whom they disagree.
5. The Carry
We moderate our conversations closely, helping people engage
respectfully with one another and using tested techniques to help
create a productive experience.
6. The Nourish
As conversations grow, we support them with reporting and research that
provides information to the participants, with the aim of establishing an
agreed-upon foundation of facts for their discussions.
7. The Share
With newsroom partners, we uncover stories generated in the conversation, including
ongoing questions and issues relevant to the community — this amplifies the
conversation’s impact and provides additional opportunities for engagement.
Spaceship Media Is...
Co-Founder Eve Pearlman is a veteran journalist and community engagement strategist. She has worked with news and social media start-ups, including State, a London-based social media platform connecting people around shared interests, and AOL’s Patch. She holds a bachelor’s from Cornell University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern.
Jeremy Hay reported for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Wired, and The Tenderloin Times, among others, before co-founding Spaceship Media. He has been recognized by multiple awards including a George Polk, for a project on globalization on which he was a lead reporter. He was a 2015 JSK Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.
"The Spaceship model has shown how divided people can come together to grapple
with difficult questions, and emerge with new insight about themselves and their
views. This is work that offers a new way to think about the role of journalists and
their capacity to serve communities, and improve the world through fact-based
inquiry, combined with courage and civility."
-Michelle Holmes, VP of Content, Alabama Media Group
"This was a great, though challenging, experience. It's hard to hear and listen
to different points of view, but it does us all good. We could be a stronger,
less divided nation with more projects like this one."
-Chantal Clarke, San Francisco Bay Area
"I learned how much more there is for me to think and read and ask about the big
questions of this ongoing project we call our democracy. How do we welcome,
accept, defend and protect our shared values amidst all of our difference? How we
get to an understanding that this land is your land and mine too? That, to me, is the
challenge for us all in these years ahead."
- Helena Brantley, Oakland, California
"Eve and Jeremy inspired us to think a little less about what would be convenient for
us and more about what would be useful to the community. In a few short hours,
they gave us incredibly useful tools and tips about how to engage our audiences
more effectively, but also the space and freedom to generate our own ideas. I can't
tell you how glad I am that we hired them."
- Wendy Thomas Russell, Project Manager, Long Beach Media Collaborative
"'Engagement' is swiftly becoming a cliche in our industry, more social-media
marketing than genuine connection. But during Southern California News Group's
recent relationship, Spaceship Media arrived at results that felt more like an authentic
connection--to real people reaching out to one another over a volatile, heartfelt,
polarizing issue. At a time when it's easy to dismiss the population as too polarized to
compromise on anything, the 'Borders' conversation made a case that where and
how the conversation takes place can fuel quality communication."
- Tom Bray, Managing Editor of Content, Southern California News Group
"We should meet the people we are told to fear, convening communities in conflict
into informed and civil conversation... Witness an experiment by the local Alabama
news site AL.com and the startup Spaceship Media, which brought together Trump
voters from the South and Clinton voters from the West on Facebook to meet, listen
to each other, find where they disagreed, and—here’s the good part—call on
journalists to help them combat misunderstanding with fact."
- Jeff Jarvis, Director of the Tow-Knight Journalism Center, The Atlantic.
“Many approaches to engagement focus on getting something from the audience –
attention, insights, questions, stories, opinions, social media shares – and Spaceship
Media’s dialogue journalism model produced all of those for MPRNews’ Feeding the
Future project. But it also allowed us to give something to the community: a
welcoming space to interact with journalists and with each other and to create
meaningful conversation. For a media company that values curiosity, empathy, trust
and transparency and is devoted to enriching minds, expanding perspectives and
strengthening communities, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
– Linda Miller, director of network journalism and inclusion, Minnesota Public Radio