Guns, an American Conversation
Spaceship Media collaborated with Advance Local, TIME, the Newseum, Essential Partners and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting on Guns, an American Conversation. Our latest dialogue journalism project launched the weekend of March 23-24, with a two-day gathering at the Newseum that brought together 21 people from around the country with a range of opinions on guns. TIME’s video about the project kickoff is worth a watch. A closed, moderated Facebook group of about 150 people discussing guns launched the first week of April and remained open for a month. You can read the stories that emerged from the project below.
We spend a lot of time talking about guns. We have arguments, protests, declarations, and slogans about what kind of weapons can be sold and to whom. But the one thing we rarely have when it comes to firearms is a real conversation, and not just with members of our own tribe, but with people whose ideas don’t align with ours.
I am a survivor of suicide. No, I have never tried to commit suicide myself, but my life is the product of my mother's suicide when I was 11 months old. I was born June 3, 1981, and my mother died May 5, 1982. My life is a testament to bother the positive and negative effects a loved one's suicide has.
In Childish Gambino's hit "This is America" there are two scenes in which the singer plays a cold-blooded shooter while he's rapping about partying and making money.
How do you make a seemingly impossible conversation possible? Throughout April, I was one of several journalists helping a closed Facebook group of 150 participants talk about one of America's most divisive issues: guns.
Mark Squid is licensed in Virginia to carry a concealed gun. Dan Zelenka has a similar license from Louisiana.
Meet Jon Godfrey: He has more than a dozen guns at his Parish home, including an AR-15. He's retired from the military and law enforcement. He uses the guns to hunt and would use them to fend off an intruder at his rural home, if he needed.
Feeding the Future
A conversation about agriculture
Feeding the Future was a collaboration with Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. It brought together farmers — large and small, conventional and organic — as well as consumers in a conversation about farming practices, and which, in the modern day, were better suited to meeting the food needs of the planet in the future. The conversation was technical, respectful and productive.
A conversation between educators and parents of students of color in Washington
We are working with the award-winning Seattle Times Education Lab to design and manage a conversation experience about the inequities faced by many students of color in Washington and how to tackle that problem. The group includes parents and guardians of students of color and teachers and paraeducators from around the state.
Talking Across Borders:
A conversation about immigration enforcement
Spaceship Media designed and is managing this statewide conversation about the enforcement of immigration laws, a flashpoint topic of the modern era. More than 50 California residents are taking part in the moderated conversation, and discussions have touched on topics ranging from white identity, the economic impact of illegal immigration, and assimilation.
The project, supported by a Bettinger News Innovation Fund grant, also brings together three news organizations in collaboration: Univision, the Bay Area News Group and Southern California News Group.
Neil Chase, executive editor of The Mercury News and the East Bay Times, flagship properties of the Bay Area News Group, said the new project can help journalists learn different perspectives in greater depth.
“We interview people every day, but we rarely get to be part of a sustained conversation about an important issue,” Chase said. “This approach connects people with diverse views and helps us explore this story in deeper, more meaningful ways.”
Take an ex-trucker who blames illegal immigrants for his inability to find a job. Add in an undocumented immigrant who says that President Barack Obama’s executive action allowing her and other “Dreamers” to stay in the country changed her life.
"Two journalists have found a way to bridge the divide between people who strongly disagree over political and social issues. Spaceship Media co-founder Eve Pearlman says they started the project after the presidential election last November..."
August 13, 2017
"One woman doesn’t understand why some people think she’s a racist just because she supports increased immigration enforcement..."
September 3, 2017
"Santos Aviles, who as a teenager illegally immigrated from El Salvador to the United States, has found it surprising how many conservatives have been open to his suggestions on reforming the country’s tattered immigration laws."
Talking Across Borders would not have been possible without the generous support of the Jim Bettinger News Innovation Fund.
Tackling the Gap:
Examining the achievement gap between white and black students in Alabama
Spaceship Media partnered with AL.com to examine the achievement gap that exists between white and black students in Alabama and nationwide. The project brought together more than 60 Alabama teachers of different races and from different grade levels to discuss the causes of this inequity, and to strategize on the best ways to respond in their classrooms.
Teachers in the moderated conversation explored aspects of the achievement gap including differences in resources, school discipline practices, and access to advanced coursework. The discussion, which took place over two months in a closed Facebook group, led some participants to become more active in local government and education policy, while the debates and solutions proposed within the discussion offered insight into the inner workings of modern school segregation for teachers, education experts, and policymakers.
Al.com’s education reporter Trish Crain is continuing to report stories that grow from this discussion.
“As a teacher, participating in this group is one of the best avenues of professional development I have taken. The discussions have been respectful in the midst of addressing a sensitive issue: race in education.” --Katrina Thomas, teacher, Randolph County High School
January 7, 2017
"While test scores in Alabama schools generally mirror poverty levels, poverty is only one factor, research has shown.
The Alabama state department of education's chief academic officer Dr. Barbara Cooper is charged with improving achievement for the 730,000 students in Alabama's public schools..."
January 10, 2017
"African-American students in Alabama tend not to perform as well on standardized tests as their white counterparts. That’s part of the so-called “achievement gap,” one of the most persistent and touchiest issues in education. But a new data-driven series by Al.com, journalism nonprofits Spaceship Media and Solutions Journalism Network, and teachers from across Alabama aims to address those disparities..."
January 5, 2017
"Classroom teachers have a front-row seat in the efforts to educate Alabama's children, so AL.com decided to ask them about the difficulties behind the achievement gap and what the state could do to close the divide.Chances are good that you've heard of the achievement gap. It's the long-running difference in average test scores between groups of children.."
January 6, 2017
"One of the ways I have spent mine is using Facebook for good!
Back in the spring, I was invited to join a group of teachers throughout the state of Alabama called, Tackling the Gap: A Teacher's Conversation.
This is a Facebook group created by a partnership between Spaceship Media and AL.com to look at the achievement gap..."
The Alabama - California Conversation
Spaceship Media designed and managed this two-month collaboration with the Alabama Media Group, bringing together two communities that have been pitched against one another: Donald Trump voters and Hillary Clinton voters. The cross-country project brought together women in Alabama who voted for Trump and women from the San Francisco Bay Area who voted for Clinton.
Using Facebook and other platforms, we generated dialogue and engagement between the two groups about hot button political issues including immigration, abortion and healthcare, as well as topics like holiday traditions, news-reading habits and relationships. Steadily, if at times haltingly, the women came to see their opposites as far more than just who they voted for. And, at the end of the project, the majority of the participants created their own Facebook group to continue the discussion.
January 15, 2017
"As the Alabama/California Conversation Project wound down, Helena Brantley of Oakland, California, was "friended" by a woman from Alabama -- both were participants in a private Facebook group that brought together Hillary Clinton supporters like Brantley from the very blue San Francisco Bay Area and Donald Trump voters from very red Alabama...."
January 12, 2017
"Roll Tide! One month ago, I had no idea what that meant. One month ago, I'd never really thought about people living in Alabama. Two months ago, neither of those things mattered to me. ..."
December 16, 2016
"What can we learn through a series of conversations between women in Alabama who voted for Donald Trump and women in San Francisco who voted for Hillary Clinton? ..."
January 11, 2017
"As Inauguration Day approaches, Clinton supporters talk of resisting Trump and cull friends from their Facebook rolls; Trump supporters celebrate; families and friendships fracture; a granite silence stands between the two camps and productive dialogue seems impossible. ..."
Officers and Students:
A conversation about fear, and discrimination, and understanding each other.
In Alameda, California, a San Francisco Bay Area city of about 76,000 people, Spaceship Media designed and managed a grant-funded project between the Alameda Police Department and students of color at Encinal High School.
The project brought the concerns of each group to the other, using journalism to answer the questions students have of police and vice versa. Areas of focus include implicit bias, law enforcement practices, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Students responded by seeking greater contact with police officers, and police officers acknowledged that implicit bias can be a factor in policing.
Check out this interactive from the Spaceship Media conversation that brought together students of color at Encinal High School in Alameda, California and officers from the city’s police department. Here you’ll find audio and visuals that capture some of what both youth and officers experienced.
The police/student conversation would not have been possible without the generous support of Phocas Financial.
The generous support of
also helped make this police/student conversation possible.