Just hit pause: ‘Arresting Knowledge’ tour heads to NBTB

If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

And if you’re smiling, chances are you know something about journalism, including the mindset that makes journalists some of the best critical thinkers around. Don’t assume. Follow the money. Question authority. What’s your source? Any beginning journalism class begins — and ends — with phrases like these.

But times have changed. America is divided: There’s open debate today between truth and alternative facts. Boring town halls and college speaking tours have exploded into angry shoutfests. Bringing up politics at the dinner table can be a recipe for disaster. We like and follow friends on social media but mix opinions with news. We have the right to free speech but actually exercising it often seems daunting.

And after a presidential election that pretty much no poll or pundit predicted, journalists are looking inward. Where did that information come from? What is the other point of view? What’s my bias? Who did I miss?

Fortunately, Arresting Knowledge will be coming to Newsroom by the Bay to help us explore those questions.

A touring interactive radio show designed to get people talking and learning about media literacy, Arresting Knowledge will kick off its nationwide “community engagement tour” at NBTB with a live 90-minute broadcast event on Tuesday, July 4.

Executive producer Deborah Pardes and her team hope to “spark and document a national conversation” about how news, social media, entertainment and advertising shape those who make media as well as those who consume it:

Other stops along the tour include The Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island as well as community events in Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Belfast, Maine. Organizers are fundraising and hope to hit states in the Midwest, Southwest and South later this fall.

Pardes’ approach mixes games, storytelling and something she calls “journalism speed dating” — sharing information fast with one partner and then moving rapidly to the next one, who (surprise!) may or may not agree with you. (Spoiler alert: This can involve paper airplanes.)

That said, the phrase “arresting knowledge” is about taking a pause when news hits.

“It’s not about fake news, it’s about critical thinking,” says Pardes, whose projects also include Artists for Literacy and Get Smart Radio.

“I can’t stress this enough as a life skill,” says Pardes, “to take a breath and say, ‘I don’t need to respond to this immediately. I have time. I can parse things that are coming at me. I can build community and discuss something that’s confusing. I have the right to speak truth to power and to ask questions.’ ”

Learn more about Arresting Knowledge on Facebook and Twitter.



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