Dispelling Myths about Trump Supporters through civic journalism














Two Contests for Civic Journalism



The Presidential campaign of 2016  appears to be furthering the racial partisan that has been growing over a number of national election cycles. Black and Latino support for the Republican nominee was at historic lows. During the campaign, candidate Hilary Clinton said that many of her opponents' supporters were a "basket of deplorables." At the same time, white nationalists are more enthusiastically supportive of Trump than they have been of any national candidate since the late 1960s. Meanwhile, centrist to conservative leaning white Americans lie between these positions; some are so troubled by what they perceive to be racially problematic rhetoric that they feel compelled to abandon Trump; others do not perceive the candidate as racially troubling but may have some ambivalence about supporting a candidate who excites avowed racists. Understanding how people on each side of the political divide view issues related to race is important for the nation, and especially for journalists who are so important for helping people see beyond their own social group. 

More work is needed by journalists, specifically on the topics related to race, ethnicity, racism, and nativism. However, talking about issues of race and racism are uncomfortable for many people. It is well-established that this discomfort is often worsened in cross-racial encounters. In fact, social psychologists have coined the term “racial anxiety’ to describe the ways that fears of being perceived as racist can interfere with candor and comfort in cross-racial encounters.

The combination of these factors creates a set of challenges for the field of journalism, and for journalists of color specifically. On the one hand, journalists of color who may be familiar with racial discourse may be in good position to interrogate these issues. On the other hand, the racial anxiety may affect people's candor, and thus may undermine journalists ability to directly interrogate these issues. Thus, if a journalist investigates the way a candidate's supporters view issues of race and demographic change, they also must reflect on the way their own perceived identity affects what they discover. 



Americans Listen is sponsoring three contests for aspiring or active journalists who want to work toward improving their ability to enact empathetic listening in as they conduct a journalistic inquiry about views related to race and demographic change. Specifically, the task is to choose a candidate that is the opposite of one's own political preferences, and conduct an examination of how some of these supporters view issues related to race. As discussed below, submissions can take a variety of forms of media, including articles, blog or video blog series, short films, radio or TV programs - these are only examples. The submissions are expected to shed light on two questions: 

1.     What is the range of perspectives about race, ethnicity, diversity, and demographic change held by people who have very different political preferences than yourself (yourselves)?

2. How might my/our own perceived racial identity affect my/our ability to investigate Question 1?


In order to handle the complexities of getting the candid views of people who view politics very differently than themselves, some contestants may choose to work collaboratively in multi-racial teams. 

In short order, Americans Listen will further delineate the differences in expectations for the 18 and under division and the 19-26 age division.



Examples of forms of the submissions

  • Written articles
  •  Edited series of written and/or video blogs presented as one product
  •  Short films
  • Radio programs
  • Packaged highlights of public forums

Examples of the settings that journalists might use to extract Trump supporters' views

  • A series of one-on-one or small group interviews
  • Focus group sessions
  • Public forums or group dialogues
  • Panel discussions on radio, TV, or in public forums