Bob Van Oosterhout

Imagine If You Can - People's News
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Imagine if news was no longer supplied primarily by people who want to sell us something.

Imagine citizens from different backgrounds and points of view coming together in small groups to ask questions about issues that affect their lives.  Imagine them getting together on a regular basis to clarify, evaluate, and prioritize these questions in an atmosphere of respect and curiosity.  Imagine them posting them to a site where questions from other small groups are also listed.  

Imagine dozens, hundreds, eventually thousands of people seeing these questions and bringing them to libraries.  Imagine helpful librarians teaching them how to find reliable answers.  Imagine all of these people learning to evaluate sources, check facts, explore history and context, and assess reasoning.  Imagine apps and websites that guide them through this process and also generate personalized emails informing sources, politicians, and the rest of the world when information is found to be divisive, misleading, or false.

Imagine this information being posted, organized and updated on a website by people from different perspectives and backgrounds who are fully transparent. Imagine it being summarized into clear statements that are regularly updated and indicate the level of confidence in their accuracy and the reliability of their sources.  

Imagine everyone involved in the process is open about who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, and how they might benefit from it.

Imagine an app that guides us through having a meaningful conversations with people from different backgrounds and perspectives.  Imagine learning how establish an atmosphere of respect and curiosity;  avoiding taking about politicians and their selling points; and asking questions that lead to mutual understanding and the discovery of shared concerns.

Imagine more and more citizens thinking and talking about issues in a meaningful way.  Imagine them asking questions, having easy access to reliable, verifiable information.  Imagine them easily recognizing when simplistic solutions are being sold to us by those who benefit from those solutions at our expense.  Imagine political operatives getting thousands of app-generated personalized emails whenever they release material that is fear-based, divisive, or misleading.

Imagine journalists stop covering elections as sporting events and candidates become subject to  a rigorous process of in-depth interviews that assess their understanding of issues and their ability and commitment to serve the people rather than their party or the self-interests of those who finance them.

Imagine the only politicians who can get elected are those who demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues, take into account different points of view, know how to work with people with different backgrounds and perspectives, and have consistent records of honesty and integrity.

Imagine you helped make this all happen...