There is little doubt that the news media amplify and exacerbate social and political divisions. Too often, journalists follow a ‘Noah’s Ark’ approach to coverage in which a strong liberal is paired with a vocal conservative in an ideological food fight. The result is polarization of discourse and ‘false equivalence’ in reporting. This lack of nuanced analysis confuses viewers and makes it difficult for them to sort out the contrasting facts and opinions. People get the sense that there are only two policy options and that there are few gradations or complexities in the positions that are reported.

From the Brookings report, "Nudging News Producers and Consumers Toward More Thoughtful, Less Polarized Discourse," by Darrell West and Beth Stone. A worthy read.

This is a tension we’ve experienced first-hand when programming live events for The Civil Conversations Project. We’ve been questioned by producers and journalists in public radio news rooms about our guest choices for conversations on gay marriage and abortion. But, there have also been some really wonderful advocates, newsroom managers like Chris Worthington of Minnesota Public Radio too.

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