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America Today - Civility Series

Geo. Washington's civility rule #4: Don't hum to yourself

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 30, 2013

The web site Colonial Williamsburg says that George Washington, at age 17, compiled his own list of civility rules.

Here are a few:

Rule 4:  In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

Rule 9: Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.

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NIF identifies recent developments that stifle engagement

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 29, 2013

A National Issues Forums Institute discussion guide spells out several problems that deter citizen involvement in government.

The guide book, called  Political Fix: How Do We Get American Politics Back on Track? poses seven possible sources of frustration, then offers three scenarios for solutions.

Here's a summary of developments, that they say, "if left unchecked, are likely to further weaken the effectiveness of government."

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Requesting information from government isn't easy

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 26, 2013

Freedom of Information Requests can be cumbersome and time-consuming. For those of us in the media, accustomed to this kind of work, it can slow us down and sometimes cause us to give up.

For citizens, it can be even more daunting.

A number of journalism organizations are creating a system that helps everyone -- journalists and citizens -- prepare information requests that have a higher chance of success and help us better understand our government.

To read more about the projects underway, check out the Organization of Investigative Reporters & Editors.

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15 more months........

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 26, 2013

The mid-term election season begins in about six months, and occurs in November of next year.

One of the most telling stories during the Beacon Journal's 2012 America Today/Civility series was one by reporter Dave Scott, in which he attempted to discuss the idea of civility with U.S. Senate candidates. Both turned him away.

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Public meetings don't work. So what does?

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 26, 2013

Public Agenda, a national public engagement research organization, studied involvement in local government in California. Here's an excerpt:

What is the state of public participation in local government decision making in California?

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Who was polarized first?

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 26, 2013

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that moderates are moving away from the party structure, leaving the Republican and Democratic parties to the people who tend to be unwavering in their opinions.

Republicans are more polarized than Democrats, according to the study. Democrats attract moderates and conservatives more than Republicans attract liberals and moderates.

So which came first? A polarized government? Polarized media? Or polarized people?

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Should news organizations be advocates?

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 24, 2013

The Beacon Journal's America Today/Civility project, some would say, was advocacy. However, the project was launched based on polling, focus groups and interviews that showed overwhelming concern about the lack of respect people show toward one another and the need to understand different perspectives, find common ground and work toward solutions.

 

Here's a piece from Jan Schaffer at the Nieman Journalism Lab.

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Webinar: Challenging Racism Systemically in the South

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 22, 2013

July 23, 2013

3 pm ET

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Do news media incite incivility?

By Doug Oplinger Published: July 22, 2013

Part of the Beacon Journal's America Today project

Initially published Sept. 10, 2012

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America Today - Civility Series Archives

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