107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070

Peoria Speaks Talks Elections and New Bellwether Project

On Thursday, April 12th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at North Branch, Dennis Anderson, executive editor of the Peoria Journal Star, will lead a Peoria Speaks community conversation exploring what 2018 election issues participants are concerned about, how they’re reacting to debates and campaign developments, and why. This event is free and open to the public.

At this event, Illinois Humanities and the Peoria Journal Star will launch The Bellwether, a public-opinion storytelling project designed to help Americans better understand one another’s perspectives on politics and the world - and to generate media coverage of politics that starts with what ordinary Americans care about. As the 2018 election kicks into high gear, so does the flood of media coverage.  The public will hear from the candidates about why voters should choose them, from the commentators who dissect those candidates’ statements, and plenty of predictions from pollsters about who’s got the edge.

The Bellwether project will follow 10 to 12 participants from April to October. After attending the initial Peoria Speaks discussion, members of the group will receive text messages up to once a week from Journal Star staff to stay in touch about how they’re responding to the election, and the media’s coverage of the election, as it progresses.  In October, just before the general election, the group will come together once more and explore how their perspectives have developed since April.

Project participants from all backgrounds and all levels of political engagement - Democrats, Republicans and independents; likely voters as well as non-voters are welcome.  No prior experience is needed: the only requirements are a cell phone with text messaging (SMS) capability and a willingness to participate in two community conversations and respond to a text message about once a week.

The Bellwether offers an opportunity to connect with a diverse range of people in the community for open, constructive dialogue about the issues that matter to you.  In an age when partisan shouting matches dominate social media and cable news, it’s an opportunity to talk across political divides in a way that’s about listening and building understanding, not winning a debate.  It’s also a chance to make your voice heard in the media: your input will help guide the Journal Star’s election and politics coverage.

Those interested in joining the focus group, visit the following link to complete our prospective participant survey: http://bit.ly/2tgcYSj 

Anyone may attend the intial Peoria Speaks discussion, it is not necessary to fill out the survey to attend.


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