Who Killed Trust? And What Can We Do About It?

With Talia Stroud - Director of the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin

Episode description:

Welcome to In Reality, the podcast about truth, disinformation and the media hosted by Eric Schurenberg, a long-time journalist and media executive, now the founder of the Alliance for Trust in Media.

A lot of people, Eric included, are working to figure out what exactly happened to facts, trust in institutions like science and the news, and to the shared reality we used to enjoy in this country. There is no shortage of research about the depth of the problem but very little about what really might reverse it. Which is where today’s guest comes in.

Talia Stroud is the Director of the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas. More than 10 years ago, she was one of the first to document how Americans were retreating to news that confirmed their pre-existing beliefs—now well known as the filter bubble phenomenon—and she has since gone on to bust popular myths about social media and to research practical actions that journalists can take to re-engage with audiences. Talia and I talk about recent medical misinformation emanating from, of all people, the surgeon general of Florida; about how newsrooms inadvertently feed polarization; about bringing audiences and newsrooms closer together; and why a popular silver bullet solution to algorithmic polarization won’t work.



The Impact of Media on Democracy

The Challenge of Media Polarization

The Influence of Social Media Algorithms

Research Collaboration with Meta

The Effectiveness of Algorithm Changes

Promoting Civil Conversations on Social Media

The Role of Professional Journalism

The Business Model of News Organizations

Rebuilding Trust in Journalism

Understanding Election Misinformation


Please reach out to let Eric know your thoughts on the episode at eric@alliancefortrust.com


This episode was produced by Sound Sapien



Eric Schurenberg
Talia, welcome to In Reality.

Talia Stroud
Eric, the pleasure is mine.

Eric Schurenberg
It is great to have you here. Let me start with a question I ask a lot of the people who come through this podcast is, why did you get interested in studying your specialties, the intersection of media and democracy? Why did that motivate you?

Talia Stroud
What a question to start the new year. You know, I think it really started even from when I was a kid. I grew up in Helena, Montana, which is a capital city. And it’s a really different place than lots of capital cities, right? You know people who are in government, you see them around town. And I think from a young age, I really recognize the power of democracy and how government works.

And then I just always loved media. That probably stems from my parents were quite strict about what my media type was as a kid. And so I think those two things really followed me. And then as I entered college and graduate school, I became so fascinated by how the media environment had such a profound effect on democracy. It to me is the core of what is happening right now. And it influences so many aspects of democracy that I really wanted to make my contribution – something to do with understanding the media and improving its functioning in a democracy.

Eric Schurenberg (01:30)
That certainly resonates with me. Now, speaking of contributions you’ve made, your 2012 book, Niche News, The Politics of News Choice, talks about what is now a widely recognized phenomena, reinforced by a lot of studies and intuition about how people choose their news sources based on their political orientation. But at the time, that was, you know, I made just a year after the phrase filter bubbles had been coined.

How have things changed since you wrote that book? Have they gotten worse? Have they gotten better as more people recognize the phenomenon?

Talia Stroud (02:11)
On the one hand, I think it’s better because more people recognize what’s happening and are thinking about it. On the other hand though, we don’t see profound changes in terms of people saying, oh, let’s make sure that we’re looking at media unlike our own and giving it a fair shake, which is I think a second step that people sometimes don’t acknowledge when they’re thinking about media. And I think we’ve seen so many new entrants. I mean, when I was writing my book, social media really wasn’t the thing that it is now.

And I think that social media has really intensified some of these patterns. And I think that it’s raised important questions about what’s happening and how people make choices about who they’re going to associate with, what they’re going to follow, how they’re going to interact with others.

And so I unfortunately can’t say that things have been solved by any stretch of the imagination. And if anything, I think that they’ve become even more pronounced and even more visible because of the data made available through social media.

Eric Schurenberg (03:11.486)
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. I would say that it’s an interesting point you raise about people giving the other side a fair shake. I would say it’s become a kind of virtue signaling to say that, oh yes, I seek out views that are different from mine, and yet that doesn’t seem to move anyone off their stance as it might be. It is just a kind of… desire to represent themselves as being open minded without necessarily being open minded. I have

Talia Stroud (03:45.179)
I definitely think there’s something to that. I’ve done analyses. You’ve been looking at Nielsen media data just to find out, do people actually, if they go to MSNBC, are they going to Fox News? And there’s evidence that people do it. But like you said, is going to the other side really the same as giving a fair shake? And if you even were going to go to the other side, is that the right place to do it? I think that those are things to think about.

Talia Stroud (04:14.807)
Well, there’s been some research out there. Chris Bale has done some excellent research looking at if you just expose people to another point of view, is that sufficient? Are they going to be open-minded about it? Are they going to learn more about a different political point of view? And his research, for example, suggests that that’s not the case, that people who are exposed to a different political point of view become even more politically polarized. And I think that that’s a bit of a… it’s another selection mechanism, right? There are probably people who have a different point of view than you that you might find a lot more sympathetic compared to others. And identifying those people that have other commonalities with you may be a more effective strategy than looking at an elite voice that is articulating a quite partisan point of view.

Eric Schurenberg (04:59.738)
Yeah, thank you. And just for clarification, Chris Bale is the director of the polarization lab at Duke University and has been on the podcast before and talked a bit about the difficulty and reducing polarization. That some of those things that you would instinctively think like being exposed to other points of view don’t necessarily move people off something that has become so closely identified with their identity.

I tell you, I’d like to raise a headline that is in the news right now, if you don’t mind. It’s the, I just read it this morning that the Florida Surgeon General recommended that citizens of Florida not get mRNA vaccines because of some scientific belief he has that has been widely debunked and his recommendation led to immediate vociferous objections from mainstream scientific community, without asking you to do a psychological analysis, what of this gentleman, how is it that a doctor, a scientist, someone who is presumably exposed widely to the consensus scientific thinking about vaccines could reach this conclusion?

Talia Stroud (06:23.695)
COVID has been a very interesting case study because as you look through people’s behaviors and people’s beliefs about protection of their health and protection of the economy, for example, it’s become incredibly polarized where people’s partisan identities are predicting what they believe and what they do in a way that we haven’t, to my knowledge, seen in scientific and health phenomena before.

And when we live in an environment where there are so many information sources and it’s challenging for a person to wade through and find what’s accurate and what’s inaccurate. I think that there is room for people to reach conclusions that may not be in keeping with scientific ideas with the convergent evidence from the scientific community and you know I think that that’s on all of us, that’s on scientists, that’s on the media to think through how is it that we can present information in ways that help people distinguish between reliable sources of information and that is not as reliable. And I think that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Eric Schurenberg (07:37.294)
I’d like to cover the interesting work that you’re co-leading in collaboration with Metta on the influence of Facebook and Instagram on the 2020 elections. The role that, or the interest that you’ve emphasized that I’m aware of so far is that the role that the algorithms that those platforms use played in changing people’s perceptions or…

Or at least steering them or reinforcing their current perceptions. Now, algorithms, of course, are the mathematics to determine what Facebook users see in their newsfeed. Cooperation with meta seems particularly valuable, maybe unique in an era when platforms in general, and most flamboyantly, former Twitter, now X, are pulling away from cooperation with researchers. So before we get into the results of this work, can you talk about the structure of the research and the agreement with META?

Talia Stroud (08:38.691)
Happy to. So we started to work with VEDA in early 2020. And we have been really, I think, we’ve tried to be very careful about how we structure this arrangement. Because it’s a very odd thing to be researching the company that you’re, in fact, collaborating with. So we wanted to think through how we would do this. And before we even started, we had a number of conversations to say, these are…

…of the ground rules that we want to play by. And so the first is that meta would not have the opportunity to say that things could not be published on the basis of the findings. So before we even started anything, we wrote out what our hypotheses were, we wrote out what data we would be using, we wrote out what statistics we would use, and we uploaded all of that before we had any data, before we had anything, we uploaded that to a date and time stamped website. And when each of these publications come out, that’s the end of the story is coming out with them so that people can go and say, before anything happened here, this is what META and the researchers agreed was going to happen as part of this collaboration. And the ground rules that we set up from the beginning were that META would only have the right to say anything couldn’t be done as long as, A, it was in the context of the 2020 elections. So that was the purview of this study. And we defined that as four key aspects. So it could be about polarization participation, it could be about mis-disinformation information, and then confidence in institutions democratic norms. So we kind of played in that space. But Metta was able to say if it didn’t meet their legal obligations or their obligations for user privacy, that this was something that we couldn’t do, which makes sense. And then also if it was something that wasn’t feasible. So if we proposed something that would cost a billion dollars, obviously they weren’t going to sign on to that.

So within those provisions, though, we had broad access to the data. We put a number of integrity provisions in place. So for example, we had a rapporteur. So not only were we studying what was happening on the platform with the wonderful consent of people who were on the platform, but we were also being studied because there was someone that was observing us in meetings to take note of how the interactions were going and what the relationship was with META.

So those are just some examples of the provisions that we put in place, but we really tried to be thoughtful going into this collaboration because it is a unique situation.

Eric Schurenberg (11:11.154)
It sounds fascinating, a lot of checks and balances built into it, so glad to hear that. All but universal belief right now is that the algorithms on a platform like Meta are optimized for engagement. And that… by design or by unintended consequences, tends to favor outrage and confirmation bias and a lot of things that are divisive. The Facebook whistleblower, Francis Hagen, has famously said that defaulting the Facebook feed to a reverse chronological order, that is the most recent post first, will reduce many of the harms that come from Facebook. Your study showed that wasn’t necessarily true, at least when it comes to polarization. What did you find?

Talia Stroud (12:05.651)
So with that study, what we did is with the collaboration of Metta, we were able to change people’s experience on the platform. And so this is with people who agreed to have their platform experience change. So we talked to people ahead of time. We said, would you like to participate in a study? Part of the study may involve changes to your, to your feed. And for those people who agreed to participate for a random subset of them, we switched the feed to chronological. So as you said, it’s the most recent post first.

And then we monitored what happened over the course of the 2020 election. And a couple of things to note. The first is this change had a pretty significant impact on people’s time on the site. So when we switched the feed on Facebook and Instagram to a chronological feed, people spent less time on the platform.

So there’s something about having that ranking system that’s put in place by these platforms that makes people find content that they find more compelling, that they wanna spend more time on the platform. And if you get rid of that, they spend less time there. The other thing that it did is it really changed what people saw in their feed. So switching to chronological feed increased the amount of political content people saw. It also increased content from untrustworthy sources. So it’s an interesting mix of what happened. And I think that one of the lessons that we saw across several of the studies that we did is that this change of content isn’t, I should say, this change of content, you couldn’t make a normative case, I think, in a clean way that it was good or bad. So you might say, oh, good, people saw more political content, they can learn more, that would be so exciting. But at the same time, they saw more untrustworthy sources, which I think we could say we wouldn’t want that.

Talia Stroud (13:53.367)
So there’s an interesting mix that happens when you have these tweaks to the algorithm. And then as you previewed, what we did is we measured what people thought about politics and comparing people in these two conditions, whether they had the chronological newsfeed or whether they had the regular ranking on Facebook and Instagram, we did not see any change in political polarization. So…

This switch didn’t seem to be a solution for political polarization, at least in the context of when we did the study, which is so important to know. We did this in election period. 2020 was a heated election period. We only did it on one platform per person. So we did it either on Facebook or Instagram, not on both. So there are limitations to what we were able to conclude from this. But at least from this study, three months, which, you know, typical social science experiments are much shorter than that, but for three months when we changed their feed, it did not have the effect of altering their levels of political polarization.

Eric Schurenberg (15:00.83)
That’s a shame in a way it seemed like altering the algorithm had the promise of being a silver bullet for reducing polarization or misinformation. It seems like that’s an oversimplification or overly optimistic hope.

Eric Schurenberg (15:22.772)
There were at least three other goals of the collaboration with Meta that you mentioned. What else do we have preliminary results on?

Talia Stroud (15:33.187)
So we have results on two other studies, and these were published so that people are able to find them and re-prove them, and they definitely encourage people to do that. One was, what happens if we suppress re-shared content in people’s feed, which is another proposal you sometimes hear, that if we toyed with the virality component of these platforms, might that have an effect on people’s attitudes or behaviors?

And when we suppress reshare content from the feed, we found again that it results in changes in what people see. And here, you have a similar mix of things that are, you might say, oh, that’s good. And you have some things that you think, oh, that might not be good because people saw less political content when you removed reshares. They saw less political news. So tricky things here. They saw less untrustworthy things, so that might be a good thing.

And then it was a similar result where people’s affective polarization, which is how favorably they feel toward their own party and how unfavorably they feel toward the opposite party, was unaffected. So tweaking this one mechanism of virality didn’t seem to affect polarization. We did find that at least among the study participants, when we got rid of reshares or we suppressed reshares in their feed, the study participants had less news knowledge.

So it does seem to have an effect. There’s something going on here, but it’s not polarization, which is something that we were evaluating. So that’s one of the other studies that we did about reshared content. And then another that we did is we were looking at like-minded content. And this is content we looked at this in terms of like-minded sources.

So these would be friends that share your political point of view. These would be pages or groups where members have similar political points of view. And this really speaks to the idea of some of this filter bubble or that people are creating echo chambers where they’re only hearing their same point of view. And so what we did is we demoted content from like-minded sources in a subset of users’ feeds. So we said, let’s take everything from a like-minded source.

And it was everything. So we did this, no matter what the post was. It could be political, it could be apolitical, and we demoted all of it. And one of the reasons that we did that is because even non-political content can send political signals. If you’re saying things like, it was so fun to take my hybrid and go to Whole Foods this weekend, people make political inferences about who you are and what your politics are. So we demoted everything.

Talia Stroud (18:17.779)
And again, in this one, we find no significant changes after a three-month period in people’s affective polarization, in their issue positions, in their respect for election norms. So it’s another similar story that these tweaks that have been proposed to the algorithm, when you actually test them in practice it doesn’t seem to have these uniform effects, again, within the context of the time period and the studies that we were able to conduct.

Eric Schurenberg (18:50.126)
That is fascinating, Talia, and maybe a little discouraging, but fascinating. And the most elaborate test I’m aware of, of kind of the common wisdom about what the platforms need to do. Now, while we’re talking about algorithms, there is work being done to find algorithms or other social media nudges that don’t… that don’t work by minimizing the negatives of polarization and division, but actually would promote civil conversations. Is such an activity, such an action, such a result possible? And what would that look like?

Talia Stroud (19:33.075)
I’m really excited about these sorts of projects. So at the Center for Media Engagement, we’ve been doing a little bit of work in this space, looking at things that we’re calling connective posts. And are there people and posts that actually bring people together and have the effect of improving relationships among others? And the reason I’m so enthusiastic about this sort of work is for a long time, platforms have dedicated lots and lots of resources to removing bad content. And this is a really important thing and a really good thing. And I’m glad that there’s efforts to think, there’s efforts thinking about this. But just because you get rid of bad content doesn’t mean that it’s a great space. So you can go to an online space and it could have, you know…

…good information, people could be speaking cordially to one another, but it still might not be a space that you want to go. It might not do anything for you. It might not be beneficial in any democratic sense. And so I think that some of these initiatives that are thinking about how do we produce more healthy and productive digital spaces and what sort of content helps to create that, what sort of design helps to create that, is a really exciting place to be right now.

And I’m also really encouraged by the efforts that think about how you make this transparent to users. So they have a role in selecting. Like, I really want to see connective posts. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the experience on a number of occasions where I’ve read an article or something online and I think, huh, I wonder what people with different political points of view think when they read this. And I’m not looking to get in an argument. I just sincerely want to understand someone who wants to share what their thoughts are.

And so I’m really excited about the option of, can we give that to people? Can we help to create spaces where you can learn about different perspectives and think about them in more careful ways? And I recognize that I sound probably a bit Pollyannaish about this, but I’m really excited to just see what’s possible as more research is conducted in this area.

Eric Schurenberg (21:44.83)
Can you give me an idea of what that kind of platform would look like? What is a connective post?

Talia Stroud (21:58.347)
Yeah, so a connective post could actually be on any platform. And we actually spent a lot of time combing through research from a wide variety of disciplines. So we were looking at philosophy and psychology and communication and political science and computer science. And what is it that creates bonds between people? And what sort of language or tone is it that helps to establish that? And as an example, one of the things that keeps appearing, although it uses different names depending on the literature, is something about humility in presenting your perspective. So it’s something that you say something like, you know, I’m not 100% sure on this, or maybe you say, but I’d be open to evidence against what I’m saying. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a really strong point of view. You absolutely can have a strong point of view, but you’re indicating some sort of openness to hearing something different, that you accept that there’s a chance here that there might be evidence…

…contrary to your belief, that might change where you’re standing and you convey that linguistically. And so we’ve been combing through lots and lots of posts, trying to find words and signals that these establish this sort of connection between people. And we’ve done a little bit of experimentation documenting that when posts contain this sort of language, people do feel more receptive to the person that’s sharing it when it’s someone that doesn’t share their point of view, but they’re presenting it in a way that displays this humility, this intellectual humility, they’re more open to that different point of view and they frankly like the person a bit more. So I am cautiously optimistic about the potential of looking at things with connective posts.

Eric Schurenberg (23:44.294)
That is fascinating. Let’s pivot away from social media platforms and talk about professional media, so professional journalism. The role of media is probably has not been totally productive in this era incentives that have arisen because of the collapse of some of the traditional media business models, competition with social media platforms and other digital platforms pushed media towards clickbait and its own form of outrage. What would you say media’s role is in the division that has taken place since you first wrote in 2012 and can journalism be a source of the kind of connection that you’re researching right now?

Talia Stroud (24:47.455)
Oversimplifying the media environment a little bit, there are, not a little bit, oversimplifying the media environment a lot…. There are media outlets out there that have a very clear partisan perspective and these sorts of media outlets when people are engaging with them, I find the evidence to be quite persuasive can move people to have more polarized points of view, both on issues and in terms of how they feel about those that don’t share their point of view. And so that’s, I think, one category of media. Another category of media are outlets out there that are trying to do good journalism and report on multiple points of view. And that sort of media, um,

Some of them at the national level are doing quite well and they have a business model that’s working. But at the local level, and this is the place that I have the most affinity, maybe I should say, because so many people, even if they don’t trust national media or they find some of the media to be really partisan, many people have some sort of…

Trust in their local media outlet. Not everyone, it’s not overwhelming. There are differences there depending on people’s politics. So lots of caveats there. But if you look across the media landscape, local media does stand out as a place where people have some trust. And unfortunately, as you foreshadowed there a bit, they have had so much trouble with their business model right now that it’s a really tricky moment. I think that I still remain optimistic though, because people from across the political aisle do turn to local media for news and information. And so I think that there is an opportunity for connection on the basis of how local media are presenting information to their audiences.

Eric Schurenberg (26:48.402)
A lot of local media that has arisen in the past few years, there is certainly a lot of energy behind helping local newsrooms find their footing. And you’re right, the devastation in local news because of the evaporation of classified ads and competition and so forth is enormous. But I worry about that.

Even so, and some of the most prominent and well-respected of the new not-for-profit media platforms have had their own problems. And right in Austin, where you are, the Texas Tribune, highly respected, just had layoffs, which is sad. And that reflects layoffs in the commercial legacy local news as well, regional news.

Do you see not-for-profit news as a permanent business model or is it a stopgap until a new commercially sustainable model arises?

Talia Stroud (28:06.319)
I think that nonprofit news is definitely around for the foreseeable future. I think that it has, there’s a viability there. I don’t think it probably works in all communities, which is something that has to be more deeply considered. But I think that there’s a lot of energy in that space right now, which is really exciting. And I think that there’s innovation in that space to think about how many streams of revenue can you pull together in a non-profit sort of sense to make it viable. And I think the more that you’re diversifying across those different streams of revenue, the better off it’ll be. And so I actually see potential for lots of innovation, even in the nonprofit world for news. And I think that given that it’s around for a while.

And hopefully for a long while, because I think that there are advantages to going for going to a nonprofit model for news organizations. In terms of the commercial viability for news. I hope that there is something there and, you know, there’s a lot of energy going into that space right now. And it’ll be I’ll be very curious to see how that how that all plays out.

Eric Schurenberg (29:25.122)
The Center for Media Engagement and the Alliance for Trust in Media, for that matter, are quite concerned with the question of how mainstream journalism or professional journalism, journalism is trying to not be hyper-partisan or manipulate people, can rebuild trust. The whole profession has been tarred with the same brush as, I guess you could say, any knowledge-based institution these days. I know that the… Center for Media Engagement has done some work on this. What are the promising initiatives that newsrooms can follow to better engage with audiences, to rebuild trust?

Talia Stroud (30:09.443)
There are so many different initiatives right now. So I’ll pick maybe a couple that I think are really fascinating. So one is I think engagement just at its core is something that newsrooms should consider. So we’ve done a couple of studies where we’re trying to figure out what sort of engagement practices can help to connect with audiences. So one example is we partnered with Harken and they’re an organization where it’s a…

…platform so that we put it on the news site and then people can ask questions and then there’s voting that happens among members of the public for which questions they most want the newsroom to answer and those that emerge at the top are then investigated by the newsroom and reported on and This was if this is a fascinating Thought process about how audiences and newsrooms can connect with one another

And so we partnered with 20 different newsrooms and half of them we said, just continue with your regular practices. And for the other half, we said, how about adopt Harkin for a six month time period and let’s track what happens. And so we did a big survey before they started Harkin. And then we surveyed the same people again, six months later. We also had access to things like traffic data and subscription data.

And what we found, is that the audiences really appreciated having their voice heard. They recognized that this happened, which is kind of amazing to think that you surveyed an audience six months apart. And if you look at the newsrooms that switched to using Harkin, people detected it. They knew that this happened. They said, oh yeah, our voices are being heard. We’re being incorporated here. And those people at the other newsrooms didn’t notice. There was no change at all.

So I think that that’s an interesting initiative. And because at the Center for Media Engagement, we like to think about things that are not only democratically viable, but also commercially beneficial. This one, we also track subscriptions. And what we found is that those sites that switched to Art Harkin saw a small uptick in newspaper subscriptions. So it wasn’t huge. It wasn’t as though this reversed any revenue

Talia Stroud (32:32.811)
questions that those newsrooms had, but there was a small uptick. And so to me, I find this to be an encouraging sign that there’s something about engaging audiences in the news practice that makes people feel like they’re being heard and that motivates them to think about that newsroom as something that they might support. And I don’t know if this is the magic solution. It wasn’t as though these changes were massive.

And this was over a six month time period, but there’s something there that I find quite encouraging about how newsrooms could think about their audiences in ways that have a chance of either rebuilding or building from just, from nothing, trust with the people and the communities that they want to serve. So that’s one example.

Eric Schurenberg (33:19.738)
Yes, that is a very positive study and a very positive finding. And yeah, I hope that some kind of constellation of things like that will help to reverse the trend. It is certainly encouraging to think that it is not all doom and gloom.

I’d like to look forward to 2024, speaking of doom and gloom. And you have said in another interview that a key research question for you is why people don’t trust the 2020 election or don’t trust election integrity in general. And we started our conversation today with how could it be that a scientist and a scientist… doctor who was the surgeon general of a prominent state could be swept up in a misinformation campaign. The 2020 election deniers are a misinformation movement that seems incredibly persistent and incredibly dangerous to democracy. What about that question appeals to you and what do you think the answers might lead?

Talia Stroud (34:36.451)
So a while back, we with Carolyn Murray and Emily, or excuse me, Emily, Marlee Duchovny, we did some research where we asked around 50 people who had questions about the result of the 2020 election to just talk to us for a little while. And this was just a conversation to try to understand where they were coming from and what they were thinking.

Those interviews have raised a lot of questions for me. So most of the people had diet, media diets that we would think, okay, I have a similar diet, or I know someone who has a similar diet. And there were a number of people who were really careful researchers. They were really trying to dig through things and understand what was happening.

There was a subset of the people that mentioned local news as being their primary source of information about what happened in 2020 and the election result. And there’s one way of reading these interviews that I think would make one really concerned, given that the evidence does not support the claim that the 2020 election was stolen based on reporting by lots of major outlets. But I think another way to read it is that there is some opportunity here.

People who want to investigate, they’re curious about what happened. They want to be part of a reporting process, some of them, to find out, you know, where were ballots missing? Did they make it? Did someone who had died vote? And I think to me that signals the possibility of a way to engage, to make people feel like they’re part of the process of figuring out what’s happening in this world and giving them the tools to do so and helping to prepare them to do so in ways that would stand up to rigorous evaluation. So I am passionate about thinking through how the media might play a role in helping people make sense of a really complex subject, which is the election process in the United States. And I think there’s a lot of good work being done, but I think that these interviews for me suggested that there’s a lot of space to do new things, to try some new things to help people make sense of it.

Eric Schurenberg (36:56.298)
That is also a very positive analysis of the conversations you had. I remember reading your research and thinking that people were not relying on any one particular source, but were kind of taking in a lot of different ideas. And one way to summarize the way some people thought was if there’s smoke, there must be fire, it was hard for them to put their finger on one particular thing that swayed them. But I am encouraged about your thinking that there is a way to engage with people with this belief. And I also am encouraged and agree with you that for a lot of people who have political beliefs that vary from mine, say, or from a certain consensus, are serious about not being taken advantage of, that no one seeks out information that they believe is false and then hold it knowing that it’s false.

Eric Schurenberg (38:04.339)
I must commend you on the work you’re doing, and I really support the positive efforts that you’re making at reconnecting with newsroom audiences and bringing connection to a country that is facing a lot of division. It’s really important that we get this handled with the year that’s ahead of us.

Talia Stroud (38:27.915)
Oh, thank you. And it takes all of us. So I hope that lots of people out there are thinking about doing the same thing and happy to chat with anyone that has a similar mission.

Eric Schurenberg (38:38.434)
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Talia Stroud (38:41.283)
Thank you so much, Eric. It’s been my pleasure, too.

Created & produced by: Podcast Partners / Published: Jan 16 2024

Share this episode:

All episodes are streaming on these platforms: