Do you really think people will change their minds after reading The Perspective?
Our mission is to open people’s minds, not change them. If someone goes: “Hmm, hadn’t thought of that,” then we feel like mission accomplished. On to the next…
Since opening minds is our mission, we’ve built a ship to fulfill that goal. Our site’s content and design contain various aspects intended to increase the likelihood of people opening their minds. For example, seeing an opinion you are comfortable with next to an opinion that may challenge you makes you less resentful of the opposing idea. On our site, you are never in enemy territory.
And we have our data. We’ve been around long enough to know that we host people representing the entire spectrum of views. We know that they engage with the content in a way that, if nothing else, gets them to consider views they are less likely to meet elsewhere on their digital lives.
How does reading change anything?
To begin with, being exposed to more perspectives than just your own, means you are not in a filter bubble. if knowledge is power then consider yourself empowered.
But also, reading (other perspectivs) makes you less afraid. People fear what they don’t know and a dominant feeling that people had following the last U.S. presidential election was fear. Why? Because more than feeling a lack of unity, people felt as if they no longer knew their fellow Americans or whether they agreed on the basics of right and wrong. This left people scared for their future.
The Perspective is a tool to help prevent this fear of the unknown. By getting to see what the other side thinks in a non-aggressive way, you get a deeper, more rational understanding of one another. You might still disagree with the other person’s perspective, but you will be able to recognize that he/she has rhyme and reason to their thinking. This makes reality less scary, and to some, that’s enough of a change.
The Perspective also shows that alternatives to your way of thinking. It’s a platform that enables you to truly make up your mind about issues after being exposed to a larger picture.
We also provide a way for you to try to persuade someone else of your views by using arguments that not only sound strong to you, but have more chance of getting through to the other side.
For the Trending Perspective (the site’s aggregated news feature), how do you choose the publications for each side?
Despite the high correlation between many publications and their political views of the world, we don’t focus on publications as much as we do on articles themselves. The articles we choose are worthwhile, offer a clear perspective, and when paired create a larger picture of an issue. It’s never happened so far, but for argument’s sake, if we find two great opposing perspectives on the same issue from the same publication, that’s fine by us. if we think that a press release displays a key perspective onto a story, than we might use it. As long we deliver a whole that can enrich our readers’ understanding of a story.
How do you deal with fake news?
To begin with, The Perspective, as a concept, is not addressing the problem of fake news. Instead, we address filter bubbles and echo chambers. We see consumers’ digital media consumption as one of this generation’s defining problem and provide an alternative to that. (You can read more about our take on Fake News here)
But of course, we don’t want to provide our readers with fake news. To that end, we use the most advanced technology around – the human brain. Every day, our intelligent and dedicated team reads countless articles on each subject we choose to tackle. By having that breadth of comparison available and by being very careful and attentive, I believe we manage to screen and discard most if not all fake new articles.
That’s also how we deal with false equivalences (the juxtaposition of two views that suggest both views have the same stature), which is a great concern of ours. Most stories that make up the news carry on from day to day, so our perspective as curators gets broader and deeper. Our screening alone leaves our editors with a reliable survey of what is founded and verified by accountable sources and what is rare or esoteric.
Who are your contributors/authors/experts?
The team that creates our content is made up of experienced professional writers and editors, most of whom have a background in media or journalism. Almost all are US natives, but not all of them live in the United States. Some work with us exclusively, and some provide content about specific fields of expertise, such as sports. Nothing goes up on our site without being reviewed by at least two discerning editors (mind you, were a startup).
Are you a journalistic entity?
No. We don’t have people performing investigative journalism; our research is mostly done online. Our purpose is to address a current problem in how people are getting exposed to knowledge and information. People have a narrow exposure to information online, mostly seeing and reading stuff they already agree with. The drive to personalization, has a side effect, which is a narrowing of view. Our task is to expose people to knowledge in a different way.
There are enough news generators out there,doing work that we think is sacred. We don’t believe that people come to The Perspective to get the news. We offer readers the opportunity to “zoom out” and broaden their scope. Get the news where you get the news, then come to us to really GET the news.
Where do you get the subjective accounts in the Subjective Timelines? Isn’t history a linear reality more so than a parallel reality?
For our Subjective Timelines, we research subjective and more official accounts of each historical conflict to build our puzzle. We usually choose 8-15 key events (though there are clearly more events in each of the conflicts we cover).This is because the reasons each side uses to justify their actions usually don’t change much over time and instance. Also, we think that 8-15 events are enough to get the bigger point across.
We believe that while logic and chronology is at the heart of our approach to history, its takes a strong and personal emotion to drive individuals into battle. History is a clash of strong perspectives, so to understand it, you need to see both sides and acknowledge there are two narratives. There is a bigger point to our Subjective Timelines and it is that every clear and concise explanation of a complex and turbulent conflict is suspect.
if you take one thing from the Subjective Timelines it is that every clear and concise explanation of a complex and turbulent situation is suspect.
Do you always contrast perspectives?
Often but not always. If the pro/con, right/left division presents itself, then great. But we are more interested in providing fresh and enlightening points of view. So, if two sources offer a new understating of a subject but they are not directly opposite, we’d still use them. There are more than two sides to every story, so everything in between is in between. Our big debates are articles that present six arguments, three per side, which are perfect examples of those shades of “in between.”
How do you keep things balanced? You are humans after all.
We rely on our formats. Our Big Debates, Trending Perspectives and Subjective Timelines all follow a very strict format. As long as we follow their formats, we remain balanced. We rely on the notion that the only way to create objective content is by brining two equally subjective points of view to the same place.
On a side note, the fact that we are human also plays into it. Having tested it, we found that when the same person is in charge of writing both sides, the overall item will be more balanced. When you have accountability for both sides, and are not there to shout your opinion, it makes all the difference in the overall effect of presenting a balanced perspective.