Welcome to Spaceship Media’s Dialogue Journalism Toolkit! A more detailed version is available as a downloadable PDF. Please enjoy your look around and reach out to us with questions and feedback. Thanks, The Spaceship Media Team.
Spaceship Media launched in 2016 with a mission to reduce polarization, build communities, and restore trust in journalism.
What is Dialogue Journalism?
Dialogue Journalism is a method for convening and supporting fact-based conversations between people on opposite sides of polarizing social and political fractures. It is a process for engaging divided communities deeply and connecting them with the newsrooms and journalists who serve them. Dialogue Journalism creates a new news cycle, one that starts from the questions and issues that divided communities are discussing. Dialogue Journalism puts community at the heart of journalistic practice.
Going to the heart of divides, bringing communities together in dialogue across difference, supporting those conversations with fact and telling stories about those conversations and about the issues and topics that arise from those conversations, this is the work of Dialogue Journalism.
—Eve Pearlman, CEO & Co-founder of Spaceship Media on the Tiny Spark podcast
Dialogue Journalism was created with the intention of going to the heart of social and political divides, to places of friction in society, as journalists always have, but then, once there, doing something different: building respectful, fact-based conversations between regular people about the issues that matter deeply to all of us as a society. We put the core tools of our journalistic craft directly in service to the divided communities we help build.
At its most basic, Dialogue Journalism is a seven-step method for identifying divides and then creating extended, moderated, fact-supported conversations between groups of people who have not been communicating or have not been communicating effectively.
Spaceship Media offers a potent balm for alienation, cynicism, distrust and fear. Their model has shown how divided people can come together to grapple with tough questions and emerge with new insight.
—Michelle Holmes, VP Content, Alabama Media Group
Extended, Moderated, Fact-Supported
At a time when trust in when journalism is low, simply saying, “Trust me, I’m a journalist,” doesn’t work mean people will. Trust is earned over time, through relationships. Dialogue Journalism allow for deeper understanding and connection, giving members of the public time with reporters and reporters time with communities.
Whether conversations are in-person or online, the work of moderators is essential. Moderators model and encourage civil discourse, support people in getting to know one another, and help people in the work of engaging respectfully with those whom they disagree. Transparency and inclusiveness are essential to creating a trusting bond between moderators, reporters, and participants, and are the building blocks of productive, respectful, civil discourse.
Reporters gather information in a form we call a FactStack, which is a carefully sourced, transparently reported compendium of facts and figures. FactStacks are delivered to participants in the conversation. Our goal is to make our reporting trustable and useful to the communities we serve. Sometimes, we partner with librarians to provide FactStacks.
It is my opinion that our work creates a level of intimacy (because what else would you call it) that is the only thing that can put an end to the viciousness in our public spaces. When we know the human behind the vote or the view, it’s harder to hate and it’s easier for us to come to a consensus about, not solutions, but problems that must be solved.
—Adriana Garcia, Spaceship Media Director Of Innovation
- Dialogue journalism is a method developed by Spaceship Media that can be used by newsrooms to bridge divides.
- Dialogue journalism projects start by identifying divided communities, places where people are not communicating or not communicating productively, and then brings them into dialogue for respectful, fact-supported conversations.
- Dialogue Journalism reconfigures the reporting process, with reporters providing information directly to the divided communities they serve.
- Dialogue Journalism projects are supported by original reporting, what we call FactStacks: non-narrative compendiums of facts and figures created directly in response to the issues and topics that people are discussing.
- CEO and Cofounder Eve Pearlman talks about the power of Dialogue Journalism in her TED Talk
- Essential Partners, one of Spaceship Media’s partners on Guns: An American Conversation, delivered a factsheet on the project
- The New Yorker, Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
- Journalism Educators Network, Deepening Engagement: Reciprocity Could be Key for Journalists
- NiemanLab, 25 Trump voters from Alabama + 25 Clinton voters
from San Francisco = 1 surprisingly good Facebook group
- Center for Media Engagement, Making Strangers Less Strange
- Solutions Journalism Network, Complicating the Narratives
- Tiny Spark podcast, “Hey America, Let’s Talk About What Divides Us”
- Journalism.co.uk, Spaceship Media is using ‘dialogue journalism’
to enable productive conversations between communities at odds