A group of Ohio broadcasters and newspapers met in December 2015 and agreed that Ohioans receive short shrift in thedemocratic process. For one, their voices aren’t heard above the programmed political rhetoric, and two, the candidates aren’t held accountable to the concerns of the people.
Out of that grew The Ohio Media Project, a group of more than a dozen major news outlets determined to give voice to Ohioans in a series of stories known as Your Vote Ohio.
Already, projects have been published on Ohio’s high level of disgust with government, and the seriously deteriorating Ohio economy.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundationgave $175,000 to the non-partisan civic engagement group Jefferson Center and the Bliss Institute for Applied Politicsat the University of Akron to assist Knight’s hometown paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, in facilitating the statewide project. The group also received support from the Akron Community Foundation and independent, anonymous Akron donors.
Additional support is being sought to insure that all major metro areas are represented in the research and reporting.
Funding will pay for statewide polling, which will guide the news organizations in discerning the concerns of Ohioans, and deliberative sessions facilitated by the Jefferson Center, which will help news organizations understand how best to serve the voters.
The first round of polling is in the field and will be reported in late May or early June.
Knight also is supporting the news organizations’ efforts to engage citizens through social media, with the Jefferson Center guiding that effort on the Your Vote Ohio Facebook page and #YourVoteOhio on Twitter.
The Solutions Journalism Network, a non-profit group from New York, will provide training to Akron-Canton area media on how to identify solutions to problems identified by citizens, among them the onslaught of negative political ads that occur e very four years.
The foundation for the Akron role in the project comes from the 2012 America Today/Ohio Civility Project, in which the Bliss Institute, the Akron faith community and the Beacon Journal conducted polling and 25 focus groups exploring the growing tension in politics and public conversation.
Citizens blamed the media as the number one facilitator in the angry dialog that was dividing the country.
The December media meeting grew out of an October 2015 retreat assembled by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, based in Tucson and Washington, D.C. The NICD, formed at the University of Arizona as a result of the assassination attempt on the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, has created a Text Talk Vote engagement program to help Ohioans discuss tough issues in the election.
Voters cringe over political ads, eyes and brains monitored during University of Akron test
Most of the willing participants wore a complex set of headphones with moistened tentacles reaching into their hair, touching their scalp. Tiny sensors measured brain waves.
A long, narrow bar sat below the computer screen in front of them, watching the movement of their eyes.
This was a test — an effort to determine if, and how deeply, political advertising affects people.
There was little doubt when all was done.
Akron students focus on negative tone of presidential campaign, stress the importance of character
Donald Trump can’t be trusted because his inflammatory, racially and ethnically charged rhetoric is divisive.
Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted because she could have compromised national security when she used her private email account for State Department business.
Bernie Sanders can’t be trusted because he embraces socialist ideology.
In the 2012 election, Ohio radio and television stations couldn’t sign contracts for political advertising fast enough as a seismic shift occurred in American politics, playing out on TV screens and car radios across the Buckeye State.
Independent political groups with confusing-sounding labels like super PACs, 501(C)(4)s, and 527 organizations singled out Ohio to divide tens of millions of dollars among dozens of broadcasters to lock up air time.
Their goal: Sway, if not manipulate the famous swing-state voters.