Newsletter: Let’s talk about how we talk to each other

One of the most popular topics that Discourse members say they want our journalists to explore is public discourse.

Last week, I introduced “Real Talk,” a safe, respectful space for Canadians of all backgrounds to bring conversations they’d normally only have in the privacy of their homes to the public — and it seems to have struck a chord with The Discourse’s community. Thanks to everyone who shared their perspectives on journalistic objectivity to the Communities channel and in this Facebook thread (which includes lots of productive conversation and valuable insights from our readers, so be sure to check it out).

In this time of polarized politics and knee-jerk reactions, we don’t hesitate to broadcast our opinions about almost anything to other people. But one thing we don’t talk about is how we talk to each other.

One of the most popular topics that Discourse members say they want our journalists to explore is public discourse. Specifically, they want guidance on how to step outside of their bubbles and engage with different types of people with different views.

“How do we engage, inform and equip people to debate issues of critical public importance?” 

“How [can we] bring people divided by polarized perspectives together in understanding to improve public discourse?”

“How can we have conversations that include multiple points of view without normalizing hatred?”

“How do we listen to each other more?”

“How do we become connected again as humans?”

Help us define the steps for having conversation that connects rather than divides. In the coming weeks, I’ll be asking for your input on the ways you’ve successfully handled challenging discussions. If you find yourself debating politics with your annoying Uncle Frank at the family BBQ this long weekend, try out a few bridge-building techniques and report back to us.  

Real talk.

The Discourse strives to set the table for conversation among people who wouldn’t normally engage with each other, so my colleagues and I invest a lot of energy into moderating comments across our platforms (and even have a dedicated Slack channel for it!). Our goal is to create a respectful environment for Canadians to share different views, so we’ve had debates over whether certain comments cross the line or not. Now, I’d like to open up the debate to you by sharing an example of a real exchange between two people discussing our video debunking First Nations housing myths: newsletter screenshot 2

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The top commenter is generalizing Indigenous people and using an improper term to describe them, while the bottom commenter is criticizing the first person by calling their view “racist.” If you were at dinner with these people, how would you respond? Or would you respond at all? Let me know by replying to this email or sounding off in The Discourse’s Communities channel.[end]

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