Three RJI Fellows are vying to present their ideas on improving journalism to South by Southwest audiences next spring in Austin, Texas. But first they must survive the panel selection process, where the SXSW community votes on which presentations should be placed on the conference schedule.

Joy MayerJoy Mayer, audience engagement strategist for the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and a 2010-2011 fellow, has proposed “Trust in ‘the media’: What do news consumers want?”

“What people say they want from the news can be contradictory,” she writes in her pitch. “They might say, for example, that they value ‘unbiased’ news but also indicate that they trust Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow above all else.”

Her presentation proposal is an extension of her Trusting News project, which encourages newsrooms to more effectively communicate their value to their audiences and establish ongoing two-way communications with news consumers.

She hopes to address the following three questions in her SXSW presentation:

  1. What news brands do people trust and not trust most, and how do those answers correlate to their demographics and political leanings?
  2. How can journalists better understand news consumers and learn to speak their language in order to stand out from less credible "news"?
  3. How can conscientious news consumers do their part to encourage smarter consumption and sharing among their networks?

In addition to Mayer, two other RJI Fellows joined forces to propose a presentation on news censorship.

Christopher GuessAlejandro GonzálezAlejandro González, a 2016-2017 RJI Fellow, and Christopher Guess, who begins his fellowship this month, call their presentation “The many faces of modern media censorship.”

“Censorship of news comes in many forms,” according to their proposal. “A state can block content, filter keywords and surveil targeted individuals. News organizations are hit particularly hard by this sort of censorship or outright suppression.”

González will focus on Cuba; Guess on the former Soviet Union. If chosen, they will discuss, compare and contrast the history and potential solutions to media censorship.

They plan to address the following three questions in their SXSW presentation:

  1. What are the different methods of state censorship in the world and how did they develop?
  2. How do different styles of censorship impact how the media is structured and operates in different parts of the world?
  3. What technologies can be, or have been, built to enable journalists to circumvent censorship and build a community of readers?

Public voting on proposals began today on Panelpicker, SXSW’s user-generated session proposal platform. Selecting the up arrow is a yes vote; the down arrow is a no vote. The public is also invited to leave comments and share proposals on social media. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Central Time Friday, Aug. 25.

SXSW will be held March 9-18, 2018.

Nate Brown  
Social Media Manager


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