Amid political grudge and COVID dismay, we as a society have endured a lot of screaming over the past year and not enough listening.
Good conversation is at least as much about listening as it is talking, and we at The Dispatch are among those who want to listen more.
We already do this in several ways: We hear you when you write to us in emails, letters and letters to the editor. We hear you when you call us, comment on stories, or use social media to interact with us.
These are all important ways of communicating. None of them are as good as being able to look each other in the eye when we have these conversations. So now that the pandemic appears to be abating and we have more capacity to come together, we are working to develop community conversations around important topics.
Opinion and engagement writer Amelia Robinson is working on plans for a local conversation online in the near future. More details will come on this soon.
USA TODAY Ohio Network, which includes The Dispatch, has partnered with Braver Angels for statewide conversations involving people of diverse political positions to listen to and understand each other better, and also to building bridges in divided communities.
We’re also part of a national effort to bring people together to talk to – and listen to – each other.
The USA TODAY network of over 250 local news sites has partnered with All sides and My country speaks to reconnect Americans and provide an opportunity for honest, respectful and meaningful conversations.
This opportunity, called “America Talks”, is a two-day virtual event open to all Americans 18 years of age and over. It will take place on June 12 and 13 with the aim of fostering an open dialogue between people with different points of view.
The USA TODAY Network, owned by Gannett, will play a central role in helping thousands of Americans of diverse backgrounds and beliefs participate in the national virtual discussion.
To help you register for the event, we’re including a special quiz in news posted on Dispatch.com and other network news sites in 46 states and Guam.
Daily news readers will be asked to answer a few simple survey questions to match with a partner who has different points of view. Once paired, attendees will have the option to sign up for one-on-one video chats with their partner during the digital event in June.
“USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network are delighted to present America Talks to our readers across the country. Now more than ever, we need to engage in courageous conversations about our differences, and we hope our readers will answer the call, ”said Mizell Stewart III, vice president of News Performance, Talent, and Partnerships for Gannett and the USA TODAY network. “With deep roots in Red States and Blue States across the country, we are uniquely positioned to facilitate conversation between people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives who are willing to find common ground.”
Partner All sides says on its website that its purpose is to expose people “to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so that they can better understand the world – and each other.” Our balanced media coverage, media bias ratings, civil dialogue opportunities, and technology platform are accessible to anyone and can be integrated by schools, nonprofits, media companies, and more.
John Gable, CEO of AllSides, says his “mission is to empower American society with balanced information, diverse perspectives and real conversations. We are proud to bring America Talks to our rapidly growing and politically diverse readership across America.
My country speaks helps companies around the world connect with the issues that divide them, according to its website. He claims that his “unique matching algorithm makes it easy for media, nonprofits and governments to tackle polarization, arguably one of the most important issues facing society today. We help people break out of their filter bubbles, develop empathy, and work to define common values that strengthen democracy – all with a simple conversation. “
America Talks will serve as the headline to kick off the annual National Conversation Week, presenting additional opportunities for Americans to have conversations despite their differences. This year, National Conversation Week takes place June 14-20, involving more than 300 organizations from the #ListenFirst Coalition to invite Americans to listen and discover common interests.
Alan D. Miller is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch.