• Editorial Assistant – Thomas B. Fordham Institute


    Location: Washington, D.C.

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  • Communications Director-SEIU Local 1



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  • Chief Marketing Officer-National Aquarium



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    The Communications Network Conference October 8-10 – Philadelphia



    The last time a group of really smart communicators met in Philadelphia, they produced one of the greatest pieces of writing and sparked a revolution. declaration-independence

    At COMMUNICATION MATTERS, the 2014 Communications Network Conference, there’s no telling what revolutionary ideas we can produce.Get ready for the year’s best conference in one of America’s greatest cities!
    COMMUNICATION MATTERS, the 2014 Communications Network Conference, is set for the city of “Always Sunny,” October 8-10.
    We have four outstanding plenary speakers: 

    • Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air
    • Judy Smith, crisis communications expert and Executive Producer of “Scandal”
    • Ben Smith, editor, BuzzFeed
    • Sarah Lewis, author of “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery”
    fall2014speakers2rlntws Excited yet?  There’s much more to come.  EARLY REGISTRATION OPENS MONDAY, JUNE 30:
    • Email info@comnetwork.org to save a spot and to request an invitation to register early at a discounted rate.
    • As always, Communications Network members receive priority registration and the lowest rates. Click here for membership or renewal information.
    • A full conference schedule is coming soon with full details of our pre-conference workshops, a list of breakout sessions and our special welcome reception. Stay tuned to this page for updates.
    If you have any questions about the conference, please email info@comnetwork.org.

    Terry Gross Photo Credit: Will Ryan
    Sarah Lewis Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz

  • “The misinformation persists…” A Conversation with Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth & The New York Times 


    Brendan Nyhan teaches at Dartmouth and is a contributor to The Upshot at The New York Times. He joined The Communications Network to discuss his recent research into false information: how it takes hold and why it persists. A lightly edited transcript follows. 

    The Communications Network: 

    Let’s start with a broader picture Brendan. Why are people fooled by false information? What makes them susceptible to that?

    Brendan Nyhan:  

    There’s a couple of big problems when it comes to politics, but I think the kinds of problems I’m describing actually do extend farther beyond politics. The first problem is that when it comes to things like politics the incentives for us to have accurate beliefs are actually pretty weak.

    You have a much stronger incentive for instance to buy a reliable car than you do to know the correct information about say an initiative you’re voting, or the presidential candidate you’re supporting, or the issue that you’re telling people your opinion about. So the accuracy motivations for us in politics are quite weak.

    That’s fine. That’s normal. Democracy has always been that way. People have better things to do most of the time and we all have lives. But it is something we have to contend with because it makes people more susceptible to false information. There just aren’t strong incentives to go out and get correct information. That’s the first problem.

    The second is we have in a lot of cases at least when it comes to controversial issues strong beliefs. We have strong preferences about the right thing to do or the side that is right in a given debate. What decades of research have shown is that those beliefs, those preferences about politics or issues influence how we process information. So they make us more likely to think information we get is true if it confirms our predispositions and less likely to think it’s true if it contradicts our preconceptions. 

    We shouldn’t just assume that facts and evidence are the best or the most effective approach to informing people or changing their behavior.

    The Communications Network: 
    In your work, particularly in healthcare reform, for those of us who have followed the debate, there are a lot of myths out there. Let’s talk about some of those myths and what are some ways that you would advice communicators and others who are confronting those strongly held beliefs. What’s the best way to have an informed debate and conversation about that?

    Brendan Nyhan:       
    Well it’s challenging when it comes to an issue like healthcare reform because it’s already so politicized. Much of my research has come to some fairly depressing conclusions about the difficulty of changing people’s minds when it comes to those kinds of issues. It’s very hard. There may be better and worse ways to approach it though.

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