Can we discuss? Gannett promotes effort at bridging gaps

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NEW YORK (AP) — The dialog between Brian Roy and Brian Webb felt, at first, like a blind date. In the identical means, the individuals who introduced them collectively hope that it is the begin of one thing.

They have been individuals in an effort backed by the media firm Gannett to get individuals with opposing political beliefs to speak with one another, a part of a “Nationwide Week of Dialog” sponsored by democracy-oriented teams that’s ending this weekend.

The concept in these polarizing occasions is that if sufficient individuals begin speaking, they will discover frequent floor or at the least notice that they do not should be in warring camps as a result of they vote for various individuals, mentioned Mizell Stewart, Gannett’s vice chairman of reports efficiency, expertise and partnerships.

A month in the past, Gannett embedded a survey in information storiesthat appeared on the web sites for USA In the present day and 250 company-owned native information websites in 46 states, in search of individuals.

Conversations through video convention with greater than 1,200 volunteers occurred, which Stewart admits was disappointingly low. However he mentioned none went off the rails, and is heartened that the majority everybody mentioned they might do it once more.

“That is just the start,” he mentioned.

The discuss between Roy, from Benton, Kentucky, and Webb, from Sheridan, Wyoming, was nice — even once they introduced up potential third-rail subjects like faith, gun restrictions and presidential politics. They discovered issues to agree upon, and issues to snort about.

“It was actually good to know that I might discuss to him and disagree,” mentioned Roy, a former county sheriff, in a later interview. “I assumed it would assist me determine easy methods to have a dialog regionally with mates that I’ve misplaced over politics.”

One thing you discover throughout his chat session about Roy, who labored in regulation enforcement and communications: he loves to speak and is upset to have fewer alternatives round him. He blames social media for hardening attitudes, and the competition of the Trump years. He bemoaned how sporting a masks towards COVID-19 turned a political act, he mentioned, recalling the time at a fuel station when a stranger referred to as him an “fool” for doing so.

Many Trump supporters that he is aware of don’t desire something to do with individuals who do not feel the identical means, he mentioned. And as a Democrat who modified his registration to impartial, Roy mentioned it is more durable for him to search out like-minded individuals in Kentucky.

“It is not the one hope,” he mentioned. “It is a small hope that any person in addition to me thinks we have to talk with the opposing aspect to search out out if our variations are actual or make imagine.”

Stewart mentioned it is human nature for individuals to wish to spend time with those that are related and, more and more, the media affords larger alternative to take action.

“There’s nearly an echo chamber trade that is been erected to offer individuals with the prospect to be with individuals who suppose the best way they do,” he mentioned.

Stewart, a Black man from Cleveland, signed up for his personal dialog, with a white evangelical girl who lives in Texas. Their frequent floor was the significance of faith of their lives, though every has had completely different experiences.

“We have discovered a fantastic deal and look ahead to making use of these classes sooner or later,” he mentioned.

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